See also: Break

English

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Pronunciation

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Etymology 1

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From Middle English breken, from Old English brecan (to break), from Proto-West Germanic *brekan, from Proto-Germanic *brekaną (to break), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰreg- (to break). The word is a doublet of bray.

Verb

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break (third-person singular simple present breaks, present participle breaking, simple past broke or (archaic) brake, past participle broken or (nonstandard) broke)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To separate into two or more pieces, to fracture or crack, by a process that cannot easily be reversed for reassembly.
    If the vase falls to the floor, it might break.
    In order to tend to the accident victim, he will break the window of the car.
    • 2012 May 8, Yotam Ottolenghi, Sami Tamimi, Ottolenghi: The Cookbook[2], Random House, →ISBN, page 79:
      First, marinate the tofu. In a bowl, whisk the kecap manis, chilli sauce, and sesame oil together. Cut the tofu into strips about 1cm thick, mix gently (so it doesn't break) with the marinade and leave in the fridge for half an hour.
    1. (transitive, intransitive) To crack or fracture (bone) under a physical strain.
      His ribs broke under the weight of the rocks piled on his chest.
      She broke her neck.
      He slipped on the ice and broke his leg.
  2. (transitive) To divide (something, often money) into smaller units.
    Can you break a hundred-dollar bill for me?
    The wholesaler broke the container loads into palettes and boxes for local retailers.
  3. (transitive) To cause (a person or animal) to lose spirit or will; to crush the spirits of.
    Her child's death broke Angela.
    Interrogators have used many forms of torture to break prisoners of war.
    The interrogator hoped to break her to get her testimony against her accomplices.
    1. To turn an animal into a beast of burden.
      You have to break an elephant before you can use it as an animal of burden.
  4. (intransitive) To be crushed, or overwhelmed with sorrow or grief.
    My heart is breaking.
  5. (transitive) To interrupt; to destroy the continuity of; to dissolve or terminate.
    I've got to break this habit I have of biting my nails.
    to break silence; to break one's sleep; to break one's journey
    I had won four games in a row, but now you've broken my streak of luck.
    1. (transitive, theater) To end the run of (a play).
      • 1958, Walter Macqueen-Pope, St. James's: Theatre of Distinction, page 134:
        In July Alexander broke the run and went on tour, as was his custom. He believed in keeping in touch with provincial audiences and how wise he was!
      • 1986, Kurt Gänzl, The British Musical Theatre: 1865-1914, page 610:
        After Camberwell he broke the play's season and brought it back in the autumn with a few revisions and a noticeably strengthened cast but without any special success.
  6. (transitive) To ruin financially.
    The recession broke some small businesses.
  7. (intransitive, obsolete) To fail in business; to go broke, to become bankrupt.
    • 1625, Francis [Bacon], “Of Riches”, in The Essayes [], 3rd edition, London: [] Iohn Haviland for Hanna Barret, →OCLC:
      He that puts all upon adventures doth oftentimes break, and come to poverty.
    • 1791-92, Jane Austen, ‘A Collection of Letters’, Juvenilia:
      ‘I knew he was in some such low way—He broke did not he?’
  8. (finance, intransitive) Of prices on the stock exchange: to fall suddenly.
    • 2008, George Angell, Small Stocks for Big Profits:
      With a few exceptions, stock prices tend to follow the overall market averages. When you have a market decline, therefore, many stocks share the same overall chart pattern. Prices break and go sideways for a period of time.
  9. (transitive) To violate; to fail to adhere to.
    When you go to Vancouver, promise me you won't break the law.
    He broke his vows by cheating on his wife.
    break one's word
    Time travel would break the laws of physics.
  10. (intransitive, of a fever) To go down, in terms of temperature, indicating that the most dangerous part of the illness has passed.
    Susan's fever broke at about 3 AM, and the doctor said the worst was over.
  11. (intransitive, of a spell of settled weather) To end.
    The forecast says the hot weather will break by midweek.
  12. (intransitive, of a storm) To begin or end.
    We ran to find shelter before the storm broke.
    Around midday the storm broke, and the afternoon was calm and sunny.
  13. (intransitive, of morning, dawn, day etc.) To arrive.
    Morning has broken.
    The day broke crisp and clear.
  14. (transitive, gaming slang) To render (a game) unchallenging by altering its rules or exploiting loopholes or weaknesses in them in a way that gives a player an unfair advantage.
    Changing the rules to let white have three extra queens would break chess.
    I broke the RPG by training every member of my party to cast fireballs as well as use swords.
  15. (transitive, intransitive) To stop, or to cause to stop, functioning properly or altogether.
    On the hottest day of the year the refrigerator broke.
    Did you two break the trolley by racing with it?
    1. (specifically, in programming) To cause (some feature of a program or piece of software) to stop functioning properly; to cause a regression.
      Adding 64-bit support broke backward compatibility with earlier versions.
  16. (transitive) To cause (a barrier) to no longer bar.
    break a seal
    1. (specifically) To cause the shell of (an egg) to crack, so that the inside (yolk) is accessible.
    2. (specifically) To open (a safe) without using the correct key, combination, or the like.
  17. (transitive) To destroy the arrangement of; to throw into disorder; to pierce.
    The cavalry were not able to break the British squares.
  18. (intransitive, of a wave of water) To collapse into surf, after arriving in shallow water.
     
    A wave breaking.
  19. (intransitive) To burst forth; to make its way; to come into view.
  20. (intransitive) To interrupt or cease one's work or occupation temporarily; to go on break.
    Let's break for lunch.
  21. (transitive) To interrupt (a fall) by inserting something so that the falling object does not (immediately) hit something else beneath.
    He survived the jump out the window because the bushes below broke his fall.
  22. (transitive, ergative) To disclose or make known an item of news, a band, etc.
    The newsman wanted to break a big story, something that would make him famous.
    I don't know how to break this to you, but your cat is not coming back.
    When news of their divorce broke, ...
    • 2010, Jon Kutner, Spencer Leigh, 1,000 UK Number One Hits:
      Herman's Hermits version of 'I'm Into Something Good' topped the UK charts and also broke the band in the States.
    • 2023 March 8, Jonathan Tannenwald, “CBS is launching a 24/7 soccer channel online”, in The Philadelphia Inquirer[3]:
      “If something breaks during the day, work hours up until the evening, we’ll cut in — if we’re in the middle of, let’s say, a magazine program or a podcast on tape or a re-air of the game,” Radovich said.
  23. (intransitive, of a sound) To become audible suddenly.
    • c. 1843, George Lippard, The Battle-Day of Germantown, reprinted in Washington and His Generals "1776", page 45 [4]:
      Like the crash of thunderbolts[...], the sound of musquetry broke over the lawn, [...].
  24. (transitive) To change a steady state abruptly.
    His coughing broke the silence.
    His turning on the lights broke the enchantment.
    With the mood broken, what we had been doing seemed pretty silly.
  25. (transitive, with for) To (attempt to) disengage and flee to; to make a run for.
    • 2018 October 17, Drachinifel, 26:02 from the start, in Last Ride of the High Seas Fleet - Battle of Texel 1918[5], archived from the original on 4 August 2022:
      As the last firing of the big guns begins to die down, the German light forces still fighting to the west begin to make their choices. Some break for the open sea; others run for the German-occupied coast; still others stand and die. A small group decide to strike their colors, in imitation of three of the larger German ships.
  26. (copulative, informal) To suddenly become.
    Things began breaking bad for him when his parents died.
    The arrest was standard, when suddenly the suspect broke ugly.
  27. (intransitive, of a male voice) To become deeper at puberty.
  28. (intransitive, of a voice) To alter in type due to emotion or strain: in men, generally to go up, in women, sometimes to go down; to crack.
    His voice breaks when he gets emotional.
  29. (transitive) To surpass or do better than (a specific number); to do better than (a record), setting a new record.
    He broke the men's 100-meter record.
    I can't believe she broke 3 under par!
    The policeman broke sixty on a residential street in his hurry to catch the thief.
  30. (sports and games):
    1. (transitive, tennis) To win a game (against one's opponent) as receiver.
      He needs to break serve to win the match.
      • 2012 June 28, Jamie Jackson, “Wimbledon 2012: Lukas Rosol shocked by miracle win over Rafael Nadal”, in the Guardian[6]:
        Yet when play restarted the Czech was a train that kept on running over Nadal. After breaking Nadal in the opening game of the final set, he went 2-0 up and later took the count to 4-2 with yet another emphatic ace – one of his 22 throughout.
    2. (intransitive, billiards, snooker, pool) To make the first shot; to scatter the balls from the initial neat arrangement.
      Is it your or my turn to break?
    3. (transitive, backgammon) To remove one of the two men on (a point).
  31. (transitive, military, most often in the passive tense) To demote; to reduce the military rank of.
    • 1926, T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, New York: Anchor, published 1991, page 167:
      Sir Reginald Wingate, High Commissioner in Egypt, was happy for the success of the work he had advocated for years. I grudged him this happiness; for McMahon, who took the actual risk of starting it, had been broken just before prosperity began.
    • 1953 February 9, “Books: First Rulers of Asia”, in Time:
      And he played no favorites: when his son-in-law sacked a city he had been told to spare, Genghis broke him to private.
    • 1968, William Manchester, The Arms of Krupp, Back Bay, published 2003, →ISBN, page 215:
      One morning after the budget had failed to balance Finanzminister von Scholz picked up Der Reichsanzeiger and found he had been broken to sergeant.
    • 2006, Peter Collier, Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty, Second Edition, Artisan Books, →ISBN, page 42:
      Not long after this event, Clausen became involved in another disciplinary situation and was broken to private—the only one to win the Medal of Honor in Vietnam.
  32. (transitive) To end (a connection); to disconnect.
    The referee ordered the boxers to break the clinch.
    The referee broke the boxers' clinch.
    I couldn't hear a thing he was saying, so I broke the connection and called him back.
  33. (intransitive, of an emulsion) To demulsify.
    • 2004, J. L. Atwood, Jonathan W. Steed, Encyclopedia of supramolecular chemistry[7], volume 2, page 1466:
      Conversely, as the emulsion breaks and the system returns to the original state, energy is released.
    • 2006, Johan Sjöblom, Emulsions and emulsion stability[8], volume 22, page 400:
      When the droplets hit a solid wall the emulsion breaks instantly forming a bitumen on the wall and thus a layer up to 1 cm thick can be sprayed in one operation without requiring drying in between.
  34. (intransitive, sports) To counter-attack.
    • 2010 December 28, Kevin Darlin, “West Brom 1 - 3 Blackburn”, in BBC[9]:
      The Baggies almost hit back instantly when Graham Dorrans broke from midfield and pulled the trigger from 15 yards but Paul Robinson did superbly to tip the Scot's drive around the post.
  35. (transitive, obsolete) To lay open, as a purpose; to disclose, divulge, or communicate.
  36. (intransitive) To become weakened in constitution or faculties; to lose health or strength.
  37. (transitive) To destroy the strength, firmness, or consistency of.
    to break flax
  38. (transitive) To destroy the official character and standing of; to cashier; to dismiss.
    • January 11, 1711, Jonathan Swift, The Examiner No. 24
      when I see a great officer broke.
  39. (intransitive) To make an abrupt or sudden change; to change gait.
    to break into a run or gallop
  40. (intransitive, archaic) To fall out; to terminate friendship.
    • c. 1700 Jeremy Collier, On Friendship
      To break upon the score of danger or expense is to be mean and narrow-spirited.
  41. (computing) To terminate the execution of a program before normal completion.
  42. (programming) To suspend the execution of a program during debugging so that the state of the program can be investigated.
  43. (computing) To cause, or allow the occurrence of, a line break.
    zero-width non-breaking space
Conjugation
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Quotations
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Synonyms
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Antonyms
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Hyponyms
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Hyponyms of break (verb)
Derived terms
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Terms derived from break (verb)
Translations
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The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Noun

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break (plural breaks)

  1. An instance of breaking something into two or more pieces.
    Synonym: split
    The femur has a clean break and so should heal easily.
  2. A physical space that opens up in something or between two things.
    Synonyms: breach, gap, space; see also Thesaurus:interspace, Thesaurus:hole
    The sun came out in a break in the clouds.
    He waited minutes for a break in the traffic to cross the highway.
  3. An interruption of continuity; departure from or rupture with.
    • 2023 May 29, Jonathan Head, “Pita Limjaroenrat: Thai election upstart who vows to be different”, in BBC[10]:
      But the young activists of Move Forward outmanoeuvred the older party, and beat many of its candidates, with an imaginative, social media-based campaign offering voters a complete break with the past, and a different kind of political leadership.
  4. A rest or pause, usually from work.
    Synonyms: time-out; see also Thesaurus:pause
    Let’s take a five-minute break.
    1. (UK, education) A time for students to talk or play between lessons.
      Synonyms: (UK) playtime, (US) recess
    2. A scheduled interval of days or weeks between periods of school instruction; a holiday.
      winter break, spring break
  5. A short holiday.
    Synonyms: day off, time off; see also Thesaurus:vacation
    a weekend break on the Isle of Wight
  6. A temporary split with a romantic partner.
    I think we need a break.
  7. An interval or intermission between two parts of a performance, for example a theatre show, broadcast, or sports game.
    • 2010 December 29, Chris Whyatt, “Chelsea 1 - 0 Bolton”, in BBC[11]:
      But they marginally improved after the break as Didier Drogba hit the post.
  8. A significant change in circumstance, attitude, perception, or focus of attention.
    big break
    lucky break, bad break
  9. (finance) A sudden fall in prices on the stock exchange.
    • 1947, Reports of the Tax Court of the United States, volume 8, page 459:
      Following the invasion of France by the Germans in May of 1940, the securities markets experienced a break in prices.
  10. The beginning (of the morning).
    Synonyms: crack of dawn; see also Thesaurus:dawn
    at the break of day
  11. An act of escaping.
    make a break for it, for the door
    It was a clean break.
    prison break
  12. (computing) The separation between lines, paragraphs or pages of a written text.
    • 2001, Nan Barber, David Reynolds, Office 2001 for Macintosh: The Missing Manual, page 138:
      No matter how much text you add above the break, the text after the break will always appear at the top of a new page.
  13. (computing) A keystroke or other signal that causes a program to terminate or suspend execution.
  14. (programming) Short for breakpoint.
  15. (British, weather) A change, particularly the end of a spell of persistent good or bad weather.
  16. (sports and games):
    1. (tennis) A game won by the receiving player(s).
    2. (billiards, snooker, pool) The first shot in a game of billiards.
    3. (snooker) The number of points scored by one player in one visit to the table.
    4. (soccer) The counter-attack.
      • 2010 December 28, Owen Phillips, “Sunderland 0 - 2 Blackpool”, in BBC[12]:
        Blackpool were not without their opportunities - thanks to their willingness to commit and leave men forward even when under severe pressure - and they looked very capable of scoring on the break.
    5. (golf) The curve imparted to the ball's motion on the green due to slope or grass texture.
    6. (surfing) A place where waves break (that is, where waves pitch or spill forward creating white water).
      The final break in the Greenmount area is Kirra Point.
    7. (horse racing) The start of a horse race.
      • 1999, Jay Hovdey, Cigar: America's Horse, page 63:
        Cigar was distracted at the break and let his five opponents get the jump.
      • 2010, John Alexander, Exotic Wagering the Winning Way, page 60:
        Perhaps it stumbles to its knees at the break, effectively losing the race at the outset.
  17. (dated) A large four-wheeled carriage, having a straight body and calash top, with the driver's seat in front and the footman's behind.
  18. Alternative form of brake (cart or carriage without a body, for breaking in horses)
  19. (equitation) A sharp bit or snaffle.
    • 1576, George Gascoigne, The Steele Glas:
      Pampered jades [] which need nor break nor bit.
  20. (music) A short section of music, often between verses, in which some performers stop while others continue.
    The fiddle break was amazing; it was a pity the singer came back in on the wrong note.
  21. (music) The point in the musical scale at which a woodwind instrument is designed to overblow, that is, to move from its lower to its upper register.
    Crossing the break smoothly is one of the first lessons the young clarinettist needs to master.
  22. (music) The transition area between a singer's vocal registers; the passaggio.
    • 1862, John Winebrenner, The Serephina, Or, Christian Library of Church Music[13], page 13:
      34. Of the Registers of the Voice - All singers have observed that there are certain parts of the Vocal Scale where a break, as it is called, seldom fails to occur.
    • 2007, S. Anthony Frisella, The Baritone Voice: A Personal Guide to Acquiring a Superior Singing Technique[14], page 14:
      The point of division between the two vocal registers is most frequently referred to as the register’s break.
    • 2018, Karen Brunssen, The Evolving Singing Voice: Changes Across the Lifespan[15], page 76:
      Boys should continue in their high voice, across the break to the lower range, and end up with a voice that doesn’t have a break (Leck, 2009).
  23. (geography, chiefly in the plural) An area along a river that features steep banks, bluffs, or gorges (e.g., Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, US).
  24. (obsolete, slang) An error. [late 19th–early 20th c.]
    • 1916, Ring W. Lardner, “Three Kings and a Pair”, in The Saturday Evening Post[16]:
      "Maybe he will some day," says the Missus, and then her and Bessie pretended like they'd made a break and was embarrassed.
Usage notes
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  • (short section of music): The instruments that are named are the ones that carry on playing, for example a fiddle break implies that the fiddle is the most prominent instrument playing during the break.
Derived terms
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Terms derived from break (noun)
Translations
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References

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  1. ^ Jespersen, Otto (1909) A Modern English Grammar on Historical Principles (Sammlung germanischer Elementar- und Handbücher; 9)‎[1], volumes I: Sounds and Spellings, London: George Allen & Unwin, published 1961, § 11.75, page 339.

Etymology 2

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Clipping of breakdown (the percussion break of songs chosen by a DJ for use in hip-hop music) and see also breakdancing.

Noun

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break (plural breaks)

  1. (music) A section of extended repetition of the percussion break to a song, created by a hip-hop DJ as rhythmic dance music.
    • 1994, “N.Y. State of Mind”, in Illmatic, performed by Nas:
      The smooth criminal on beat breaks / Never put me in your box if your shit eats tapes
Derived terms
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Verb

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break (third-person singular simple present breaks, present participle breaking, simple past and past participle breaked)

  1. (music, slang) To B-boy; to breakdance.
    • 1985, “King of Rock”, performed by Run-DMC:
      Let the poppers pop and the breakers break / We're cool, cool cats, it's like that
  2. (rare, mainly historical) To brake.
    • 1951 July, R. E. G. Read, “From Bere Alston to Callington”, in Railway Magazine, page 482:
      Breaking heavily, now on a 1 in 39 gradient, the train makes as if to cross the Tamar at once, only to swing sharply to the right, [] .
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References

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  • break”, in OneLook Dictionary Search.
  • 2001. The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music: North America. Garland Publishing. Ellen Koskoff (Ed.). Pgs. 694-695.

Anagrams

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French

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Pronunciation

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Etymology 1

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Borrowed from English break.

Noun

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break m (plural breaks)

  1. break (pause, holiday)
    Synonym: pause
    C’est l’heure de faire un break.It's time to take a break.
  2. (tennis) break (of serve)
Derived terms
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Etymology 2

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un break

From earlier break de chasse, from English shooting brake.

Noun

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break m (plural breaks)

  1. (automotive) estate car, station wagon
    Antonym: berline

Further reading

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Italian

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Etymology

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Unadapted borrowing from English break.

Pronunciation

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Noun

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break m (invariable)

  1. (gay culture) break (intermission or brief suspension of activity)

Interjection

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break

  1. break! (boxing)

References

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  1. ^ break in Luciano Canepari, Dizionario di Pronuncia Italiana (DiPI)

Spanish

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Etymology

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Borrowed from English break.

Pronunciation

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Noun

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break m (plural breaks)

  1. break (pause)
  2. (tennis) break

Further reading

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