from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To cause to separate into pieces suddenly or violently; smash.
  • transitive v. To divide into pieces, as by bending or cutting: break crackers for a baby.
  • transitive v. To separate into components or parts: broke the work into discrete tasks.
  • transitive v. To snap off or detach: broke a twig from the tree.
  • transitive v. To fracture a bone of: I broke my leg.
  • transitive v. To fracture (a bone): I broke my femur.
  • transitive v. To crack without separating into pieces.
  • transitive v. To destroy the completeness of (a group of related items): broke the set of books by giving some away.
  • transitive v. To exchange for smaller monetary units: break a dollar.
  • transitive v. To vary or disrupt the uniformity or continuity of: a plain that was broken by low hills; caught the ball without breaking stride.
  • transitive v. Electricity To render (a circuit) inoperative by disruption; open.
  • transitive v. To force or make a way through; puncture or penetrate: The blade barely broke the skin.
  • transitive v. To part or pierce the surface of: a dolphin breaking water.
  • transitive v. To produce (a sweat) copiously on the skin, as from exercise.
  • transitive v. To force one's way out of; escape from: break jail.
  • transitive v. To make or bring about by cutting or forcing: break a trail through the woods.
  • transitive v. To find an opening or flaw in: They couldn't break my alibi.
  • transitive v. To find the solution or key to; uncover the basic elements and arrangement of: break a code; break a spy ring.
  • transitive v. To make known, as news: break a story.
  • transitive v. To surpass or outdo: broke the league's home-run record.
  • transitive v. To overcome or put an end to, especially by force or strong opposition: break a deadlock in negotiations; break a strike.
  • transitive v. Sports To win a game on (an opponent's service), as in tennis.
  • transitive v. To lessen the force or effect of: break a fall.
  • transitive v. To render useless or inoperative: We accidentally broke the radio.
  • transitive v. To weaken or destroy, as in spirit or health; overwhelm with adversity: "For a hero loves the world till it breaks him” ( William Butler Yeats).
  • transitive v. To cause the ruin or failure of (an enterprise, for example): Indiscretion broke both marriage and career.
  • transitive v. To reduce in rank; demote.
  • transitive v. To cause to be without money or to go into bankruptcy.
  • transitive v. To fail to fulfill; cancel: break an engagement.
  • transitive v. To fail to conform to; violate: break the speed limit.
  • transitive v. Law To invalidate (a will) by judicial action.
  • transitive v. To give up (a habit).
  • transitive v. To cause to give up a habit: They managed to break themselves of smoking.
  • transitive v. To train to obey; tame: The horse was difficult to break.
  • intransitive v. To become separated into pieces or fragments.
  • intransitive v. To become cracked or split.
  • intransitive v. To become fractured: His arm broke from the fall.
  • intransitive v. To become unusable or inoperative: The television broke.
  • intransitive v. To give way; collapse: The scaffolding broke during the storm.
  • intransitive v. To burst: The blister broke.
  • intransitive v. To intrude: They broke in upon our conversation.
  • intransitive v. To filter in or penetrate: Sunlight broke into the room.
  • intransitive v. To scatter or disperse; part: The clouds broke after the storm.
  • intransitive v. Games To make the opening shot that scatters the grouped balls in billiards or pool.
  • intransitive v. Sports To separate from a clinch in boxing.
  • intransitive v. Sports To win a game on the opponent's service, as in tennis: broke twice in the first set.
  • intransitive v. To move away or escape suddenly: broke from his grip and ran off.
  • intransitive v. To come forth or begin from a state of latency; come into being or emerge: A storm was breaking over Miami. Crocuses broke from the soil.
  • intransitive v. To emerge above the surface of water.
  • intransitive v. To become known or noticed: The big story broke on Friday.
  • intransitive v. To change direction or move suddenly: The quarterback broke to the left to avoid a tackler.
  • intransitive v. Baseball To curve near or over the plate: The pitch broke away from the batter.
  • intransitive v. To change suddenly from one tone quality or musical register to another: His voice broke into a falsetto.
  • intransitive v. Linguistics To undergo breaking.
  • intransitive v. To change to a gait different from the one set. Used of a horse.
  • intransitive v. To interrupt or cease an activity: We'll break for coffee at ten.
  • intransitive v. To discontinue an association, an agreement, or a relationship: The partners broke over a financial matter. One hates to break with an old friend.
  • intransitive v. To diminish or discontinue abruptly: The fever is breaking.
  • intransitive v. To diminish in or lose physical or spiritual strength; weaken or succumb: Their good cheer broke after repeated setbacks.
  • intransitive v. To decrease sharply in value or quantity: Stock prices broke when the firm suddenly announced layoffs.
  • intransitive v. To come to an end: The cold spell broke yesterday.
  • intransitive v. To collapse or crash into surf or spray: waves that were breaking along the shore.
  • intransitive v. Informal To take place or happen; proceed: Things have been breaking well for them.
  • intransitive v. To engage in breaking; break dance.
  • n. The act or an occurrence of breaking.
  • n. The result of breaking, as a crack, separation, or opening: a break in the clouds.
  • n. The beginning or emergence of something: the break of day
  • n. A sudden movement; a dash: The dog made a break toward the open field.
  • n. An escape: a prison break.
  • n. An interruption or a disruption in continuity or regularity: television programming without commercial breaks.
  • n. A pause or interval, as from work: a coffee break.
  • n. A sudden or marked change: a break in the weather.
  • n. A violation: a security break.
  • n. An often sudden piece of luck, especially good luck: finally got the big break in life.
  • n. Informal An allowance or indulgence; accommodating treatment: The boss gave me a break because I'd been sick.
  • n. Informal A favorable price or reduction: a tax break for charitable contributions.
  • n. A severing of ties: made a break with the past; a break between the two families.
  • n. Informal A faux pas.
  • n. A sudden decline in prices.
  • n. A caesura.
  • n. Printing The space between two paragraphs.
  • n. Printing A series of three dots ( . . . ) used to indicate an omission in a text.
  • n. Printing The place where a word is or should be divided at the end of a line.
  • n. Electricity Interruption of a flow of current.
  • n. Geology A marked change in topography such as a fault or deep valley.
  • n. Nautical The point of discontinuity between two levels on the deck of a ship.
  • n. Music The point at which one register or tonal quality changes to another.
  • n. Music The change itself.
  • n. Music A solo jazz cadenza that is played during the pause between the regular phrases or choruses of a melody or that serves as an introduction to a more extended solo.
  • n. A change in a horse's gait to one different from that set by the rider.
  • n. Sports The swerving of a ball from a straight path of flight, as in baseball or cricket.
  • n. Sports The beginning of a race.
  • n. Sports A fast break.
  • n. Sports A rush toward the goal, as in hockey, by offense players in control of the puck or ball, often against fewer defenders: a three-on-one break.
  • n. Sports The separation after a clinch in boxing.
  • n. Games The opening shot that scatters the grouped balls in billiards or pool.
  • n. Games A run or unbroken series of successful shots, as in billiards or croquet.
  • n. Sports & Games Failure to score a strike or a spare in a given bowling frame.
  • n. Sports A service break.
  • n. A high horse-drawn carriage with four wheels.
  • n. Break dancing.
  • break away To separate or detach oneself, as from a group.
  • break away To move rapidly away from or ahead of a group: The cyclist broke away from the pack.
  • break away To discontinue customary practice.
  • break down To cause to collapse; destroy: break down a partition; broke down our resolve.
  • break down To become or cause to become distressed or upset.
  • break down To have a physical or mental collapse.
  • break down To give up resistance; give way: prejudices that break down slowly.
  • break down To fail to function; cease to be useful, effective, or operable: The elevator broke down.
  • break down To render or become weak or ineffective: Opposition to the king's rule gradually broke down his authority.
  • break down To divide into or consider in parts; analyze.
  • break down To be divisible; admit of analysis: The population breaks down into three main groups.
  • break down To decompose or cause to decompose chemically.
  • break down Electricity To undergo a breakdown.
  • break in To train or adapt for a purpose.
  • break in To loosen or soften with use: break in new shoes.
  • break in To enter premises forcibly or illegally: a prowler who was trying to break in.
  • break in To interrupt a conversation or discussion.
  • break in To intrude.
  • break in To begin an activity or undertaking: The Senator broke in during the war years.
  • break into To interrupt: "No one would have dared to break into his abstraction” ( Alan Paton).
  • break into To begin suddenly: The horse broke into a wild gallop. The child broke into a flood of tears.
  • break into To enter (a field of activity): broke into broadcast journalism at an early age.
  • break off To separate or become separated, as by twisting or tearing.
  • break off To stop suddenly, as in speaking.
  • break off To discontinue (a relationship).
  • break off To cease to be friendly.
  • break out To become affected with a skin eruption, such as pimples.
  • break out To develop suddenly and forcefully: Fighting broke out in the prison cells.
  • break out To ready for action or use: Break out the rifles!
  • break out To bring forth for consumption: Let's break out the champagne.
  • break out To emerge or escape.
  • break out To be separable or classifiable into categories, as data.
  • break out To isolate (information) from a large body of data.
  • break through To make a sudden, quick advance, as through an obstruction.
  • break up To separate or be separated into pieces: She broke up a chocolate bar. The river ice finally broke up.
  • break up To interrupt the uniformity or continuity of: An impromptu visit broke up the long afternoon.
  • break up To scatter; disperse: The crowd broke up after the game.
  • break up To cease to function or cause to stop functioning as an organized unit or group: His jazz band broke up. The new CEO broke up the corporation.
  • break up To bring or come to an end: Guards broke up the fight. They argued, and their friendship broke up.
  • break up Informal To burst or cause to burst into laughter.
  • idiom break a leg Used to wish someone, such as an actor, success in a performance.
  • idiom break bread To eat together.
  • idiom break camp To pack up equipment and leave a campsite.
  • idiom break cover To emerge from a protected location or hiding place: The platoon broke cover and headed down the road.
  • idiom break even To gain an amount equal to that invested, as in a commercial venture.
  • idiom break ground To begin a new construction project.
  • idiom break ground To advance beyond previous achievements.
  • idiom break new ground To advance beyond previous achievements: broke new ground in the field of computers.
  • idiom break (one's) neck To make the utmost possible effort.
  • idiom rank To fall into disorder, as a formation of soldiers.
  • idiom rank To fail to conform to a prevailing or expected pattern or order: "Architectural experts have criticized the plaza in the past because it breaks rank with the distinctive façades of neighboring Fifth Avenue blocks, whose buildings are flush with the sidewalk” ( Sharon Churcher).
  • idiom break (someone's) heart To disappoint or dispirit someone severely.
  • idiom break the bank To require more money than is available.
  • idiom break the ice To make a start.
  • idiom break the ice To relax a tense or unduly formal atmosphere or social situation.
  • idiom break wind To expel intestinal gas.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To separate into two or more pieces, to fracture or crack, by a process that cannot easily be reversed for reassembly.
  • v. To divide (something, often money) into smaller units.
  • v. To cause (a person) to lose his or her spirit or will; to crush the spirits of; to ruin (a person) emotionally.
  • v. To cause an animal to lose its will, to tame.
  • v. To cause (a habit) to no longer exist.
  • v. To ruin financially.
  • v. To do that which is forbidden by (a rule, promise, etc.).
  • v. To pass the most dangerous part of the illness; to go down, temperaturewise.
  • v. To design or use a powerful (yet legal) strategy that unbalances the game in a player's favor.
  • v. To stop, or to cause to stop, functioning properly or altogether.
  • v. To cause (a barrier) to no longer bar.
  • v. To collapse into surf, after arriving in shallow water. A wave breaking.
  • v. To end.
  • v. To interrupt or cease one's work or occupation temporarily.
  • v. To interrupt (a fall) by inserting something so that the falling object not hit something else beneath.
  • v. To disclose or make known an item of news, etc.
  • v. To arrive.
  • v. To become audible suddenly.
  • v. To change a steady state abruptly.
  • v. To suddenly become.
  • v. Of a voice, to alter in type: in men generally to go up, in women sometimes to go down; to crack.
  • v. To surpass or do better than (a specific number), to do better than (a record), setting a new record.
  • v. :
  • v. To demote, to reduce the military rank of.
  • v. To end (a connection), to disconnect.
  • v. To demulsify.
  • v. To counter-attack
  • n. An instance of breaking something into two pieces.
  • n. A physical space that opens up in something or between two things.
  • n. A short section of music, often between verses, in which some performers stop while others continue.
  • n. A rest or pause, usually from work; a breaktime.
  • n. A temporary split (with a romantic partner).
  • n. An interval or intermission between two parts of a performance, for example a theatre show, broadcast, or sports game.
  • n. A significant change in circumstance, attitude, perception, or focus of attention: big break, lucky break, bad break.
  • n. a change; the end of a spell of persistent good or bad weather
  • n. The beginning (of the morning).
  • n. An act of escaping.
  • n. A place where waves break (that is, where waves pitch or spill forward creating white water).
  • n. :

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An opening made by fracture or disruption.
  • n. An interruption of continuity; change of direction; as, a break in a wall; a break in the deck of a ship.
  • n. A projection or recess from the face of a building.
  • n. An opening or displacement in the circuit, interrupting the electrical current.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English breken, from Old English brecan.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English breken, from Old English brecan ("to break"), from Proto-Germanic *brekanan (“to break”), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰrag-.


  • In some poems, the circumstances under which they are written will be the only introduction necessary, as in the case of _Break, break, break_ or _The Recessional_.

    Ontario Teachers' Manuals: Literature

  • The eye alone would never detect the exquisite music of such a poem as _Hide and Seek_, Third Reader, p. 50, or _Break, break, break_, p. 201.

    Ontario Teachers' Manuals: Literature

  • * @param string $break The line is broken using the optional break parameter.

  • The lunch break is not only an opportunity to take a break from the conference, should you need one, but also a chance to chat to the other participants and to enjoy the event in a more relaxed social environment.

    Archive 2007-05-27

  • I had parked myself in one of the cafe's comfy chairs in order to mark some papers yes, I'm still having to do this during the term break, when I should be vegging out instead, and the man next to me asked if I was a teacher.

    i will not publish your book

  • It was very nice having the past week off for the term break, and I ordered and received a new black MacBook (which is being partially subsidized by Hwa Chong, since I'm using it as my school computer) and an iPod Touch (which is also mostly being covered by Apple's education rebate); I wouldn't have ordered either otherwise.

    back to school

  • This past week, the term break, was the first time I read a newspaper in months.

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  • Amy's mum and dad gave me the Star Wars Trilogy DVD, so I know what I'll be doing during the term break, eh?

    trinityboy Diary Entry

  • Then I saw her eyes focus over my shoulder, saw her expression break apart, heard the feet on the porch behind me, this time fast and running.

    Neon Rain

  • Although I can't speak on how the children will act, I wonder sometimes if the break is therapeutic or detrimental for some of the adults.

    My Children Have Lost Their Minds - SpouseBUZZ


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  • break it to them ==> contar para eles

    March 7, 2013

  • Winning a game when your opponent is serving.

    January 26, 2009

  • Click 'more' on WordNet if you have nothing to do for the weekend.

    August 22, 2008

  • Talk about an earworm... ;-)

    June 20, 2007

  • And now I will hear it for hours, echoing through my brain...

    June 19, 2007

  • Does anybody else hear the old Kit-kat jingle?

    June 19, 2007