from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To end abruptly, either temporarily or permanently.
  • v. To remove a piece from a whole by breaking or snapping

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. break a piece from a whole
  • v. break a small piece off from
  • v. interrupt before its natural or planned end
  • v. break off (a piece from a whole)
  • v. prevent completion


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • Disoriented by the masses of shouting people and watching huge chunks of the burning effigy break off and float over the crowded, highly combustible slum, I began to imagine what it must have been like that night in the dark and chaos and fear.


  • At 0740, when Commodore Harwood decided to break off the action until nightfall, thirty-seven of the Graf Spee's officers and men had been killed and fifty-seven wounded.

    Graf Spee

  • Meanwhile, Müller and General Moritz Lyncker, Adjutant General to the kaiser and Chief of the Military Cabinet, agreed that William should break off the cruise.

    Castles of Steel

  • Even then, at Barbee's Crossroads, Jeb had to break off the engagement because of a rumored threat to his rear.


  • During a review of launch video, engineers at KSC had seen something break off the nose of the right-side SRB and strikeAtlantis .

    Riding Rockets

  • It was this knowledge, plus the apparent lack of damage to the Graf Spec, which made him break off the action.

    Graf Spee

  • The Federal infantry in front of Kershaw's and Humphreys's brigades showed no inclination to break off the fight after a single repulse.


  • “Though if you chance to come upon the Heartwood Tree and one of the branches just happens to break off and fall on your head . . .”


  • If just maybe there was some slight chance that we could get to the target, we would launch and go all the way, through all the buildup, only to have to break off at the base of Thud River when we knew for sure that we were over the top and the target was blanketed with low clouds and rain.

    Thud Ridge

  • At this point, with Bouvet sunk, Inflexible creeping toward Tenedos, and Irresistible drifting without a crew toward the Asian shore, de Robeck decided to break off action for the day.

    Castles of Steel


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