break ( breaks plural & 3rd person present) ( breaking present participle) ( broke past tense) ( broken past participle )
1 verb When an object breaks or when you break it, it suddenly separates into two or more pieces, often because it has been hit or dropped.
He fell through the window, breaking the glass... V n
The plate broke... V
Break the cauliflower into florets... V n into pl-n
The plane broke into three pieces. V into pl-n
...bombed-out buildings, surrounded by broken glass and rubble... V-ed
The only sound was the crackle of breaking ice. V-ing
2 verb If you break a part of your body such as your leg, your arm, or your nose, or if a bone breaks, you are injured because a bone cracks or splits.
She broke a leg in a skiing accident... V n
Old bones break easily... V
Several people were treated for broken bones. V-ed
Break is also a noun., n-count
It has caused a bad break to Gabriella's leg.
3 verb If a surface, cover, or seal breaks or if something breaks it, a hole or tear is made in it, so that a substance can pass through.
Once you've broken the seal of a bottle there's no way you can put it back together again... V n
The bandage must be put on when the blister breaks... V
Do not use the cream on broken skin. V-ed
4 verb When a tool or piece of machinery breaks or when you break it, it is damaged and no longer works.
When the clutch broke, the car was locked into second gear... V
The lead biker broke his bike chain. V n, Also V-ed
5 verb If you break a rule, promise, or agreement, you do something that you should not do according to that rule, promise, or agreement.
We didn't know we were breaking the law. V n
...broken promises. V-ed
6 verb If you break free or loose, you free yourself from something or escape from it.
She broke free by thrusting her elbow into his chest. V adj
7 verb If someone breaks something, especially a difficult or unpleasant situation that has existed for some time, they end it or change it.
New proposals have been put forward to break the deadlock among rival factions... V n
The country is heading towards elections which may break the party's long hold on power. V n
Break is also a noun., n-count usu sing
Nothing that might lead to a break in the deadlock has been discussed yet.
8 verb If someone or something breaks a silence, they say something or make a noise after a long period of silence.
Hugh broke the silence. `Is she always late?' he asked... V n
9 n-count If there is a breakin the cloud or weather, it changes and there is a short period of sunshine or fine weather.
A sudden break in the cloud allowed rescuers to spot Michael Benson.
10 verb If you breakwith a group of people or a traditional way of doing things, or you break your connection with them, you stop being involved with that group or stop doing things in that way.
In 1959, Akihito broke with imperial tradition by marrying a commoner... V with n
They were determined to break from precedent... V from n
They have yet to break the link with the trade unions. V n with n, Also V n
Break is also a noun., n-count usu sing
Making a completely clean break with the past, the couple got rid of all their old furniture.
11 verb If you break a habit or if someone breaks you of it, you no longer have that habit.
If you continue to smoke, keep trying to break the habit... V n
The professor hoped to break the students of the habit of looking for easy answers. V n of n
12 verb To break someone means to destroy their determination and courage, their success, or their career.
He never let his jailers break him... V n
Ken's wife, Vicki, said: `He's a broken man.' V-ed
13 verb If someone breaksfor a short period of time, they rest or change from what they are doing for a short period.
They broke for lunch. V
14 n-count A break is a short period of time when you have a rest or a change from what you are doing, especially if you are working or if you are in a boring or unpleasant situation.
oft N from/in n
They may be able to help with childcare so that you can have a break..., I thought a 15 min break from his work would do him good..., She rang Moira during a coffee break.
15 n-count A break is a short holiday.
They are currently taking a short break in Spain.
16 verb If you break your journey somewhere, you stop there for a short time so that you can have a rest.
Because of the heat we broke our journey at a small country hotel. V n
17 verb To break the force of something such as a blow or fall means to weaken its effect, for example by getting in the way of it.
He sustained serious neck injuries after he broke someone's fall. V n
18 verb When a piece of news breaks, people hear about it from the newspapers, television, or radio.
The news broke that the Prime Minister had resigned... V
He resigned from his post as Bishop when the scandal broke. V
19 verb When you break a piece of bad news to someone, you tell it to them, usually in a kind way.
Then Louise broke the news that she was leaving me... V n
I worried for ages and decided that I had better break it to her. V n to n
20 n-count A break is a lucky opportunity that someone gets to achieve something.
INFORMAL He went into TV and got his first break playing opposite Sid James in the series `Citizen James'.
21 verb If you break a record, you beat the previous record for a particular achievement.
Jurassic Park had broken all box office records. V n
22 verb When day or dawn breaks, it starts to grow light after the night has ended.
They continued the search as dawn broke. V
23 verb When a wave breaks, it passes its highest point and turns downwards, for example when it reaches the shore.
Danny listened to the waves breaking against the shore. V
24 verb If you break a secret code, you work out how to understand it.
It was feared they could break the Allies' codes. V n
25 verb If someone's voice breaks when they are speaking, it changes its sound, for example because they are sad or afraid.
Godfrey's voice broke, and halted. V
26 verb When a boy's voice breaks, it becomes deeper and sounds more like a man's voice.
He sings with the strained discomfort of someone whose voice hasn't quite broken. V
27 verb If the weather breaks or a storm breaks, it suddenly becomes rainy or stormy after a period of sunshine.
I've been waiting for the weather to break... V
28 verb In tennis, if you break your opponent's serve, you win a game in which your opponent is serving.
He broke McEnroe's serve. V n
Break is also a noun., n-count
A single break of serve settled the first two sets.
30 The break of day or the break of dawn is the time when it begins to grow light after the night.
the break of day/dawn phrase prep PHR
`I,' he finished poetically, `will watch over you to the break of day.'
31 You can say `give me a break' to show that you are annoyed by what someone has said or done.
give sb a break convention
`I'm a real intellectual-type guy, Tracy,' James joked. `Oh, give me a break,' Tracy moaned.
32 If you make a break or make a break for it, you run to escape from something.
to make a break (for it) phrase V inflects
The moment had come to make a break or die...
to break cover
to break even
to break new ground
to break someone's heart
all hell breaks loose
to break the ice
to break ranks
to break wind
wind break away
1 phrasal verb If you break awayfrom someone who is trying to hold you or catch you, you free yourself and run away.
I broke away from him and rushed out into the hall... V P from n
Willie Hamilton broke away early in the race. V P
2 phrasal verb If you break awayfrom something or someone that restricts you or controls you, you succeed in freeing yourself from them.
Aboriginal art has finally gained recognition and broken away from being labelled as `primitive' or `exotic'... V P from n/-ing break down
1 phrasal verb If a machine or a vehicle breaks down, it stops working.
Their car broke down. V P
2 phrasal verb If a discussion, relationship, or system breaks down, it fails because of a problem or disagreement.
Talks with business leaders broke down last night... V P
Paola's marriage broke down. V P
3 phrasal verb To break down something such as an idea or statement means to separate it into smaller parts in order to make it easier to understand or deal with.
The report breaks down the results region by region... V P n (not pron)
These rules tell us how a sentence is broken down into phrases. be V-ed P into n, Also V n P into n
4 phrasal verb When a substance breaks down or when something breaks it down, a biological or chemical process causes it to separate into the substances which make it up.
Over time, the protein in the eggshell breaks down into its constituent amino acids... V P
The oil is attacked by naturally occurring microbes which break it down. V n P, Also V P n (not pron)
5 phrasal verb If someone breaks down, they lose control of themselves and start crying.
Because he was being so kind and concerned, I broke down and cried... V P
6 phrasal verb If you break down a door or barrier, you hit it so hard that it falls to the ground.
An unruly mob broke down police barricades and stormed the courtroom... V P n (not pron)
Firemen were called after his father failed to break the door down. V n P
7 phrasal verb To break down barriers or prejudices that separate people or restrict their freedom means to change people's attitudes so that the barriers or prejudices no longer exist., (approval)
His early experience enabled him to break down barriers between Scottish Catholics and Protestants. V P n (not pron), Also V n P
broken-down break in
1 phrasal verb If someone, usually a thief, breaks in, they get into a building by force.
Masked robbers broke in and made off with $8,000... V P
2 phrasal verb If you break in on someone's conversation or activity, you interrupt them.
O'Leary broke in on his thoughts... V P on n
Mrs Southern listened keenly, occasionally breaking in with pertinent questions... V P
`She told you to stay here,' Mike broke in. V P with quote
3 phrasal verb If you break someone in, you get them used to a new job or situation.
The band are breaking in a new backing vocalist. V P n (not pron), Also V n P
4 phrasal verb If you break in something new, you gradually use or wear it for longer and longer periods until it is ready to be used or worn all the time.
When breaking in an engine, you probably should refrain from high speed for the first thousand miles... V P n (not pron), Also V n P break into
1 phrasal verb If someone breaks into a building, they get into it by force.
There was no one nearby who might see him trying to break into the house... V P n
2 phrasal verb If someone breaks into something they suddenly start doing it. For example if someone breaks into a run they suddenly start running, and if they break into song they suddenly start singing.
The moment she was out of sight she broke into a run... V P n
Then, breaking into a smile, he said, `I brought you something.' V P n
3 phrasal verb If you break into a profession or area of business, especially one that is difficult to succeed in, you manage to have some success in it.
She finally broke into films after an acclaimed stage career. V P n break off
1 phrasal verb If part of something breaks off or if you break it off, it comes off or is removed by force.
The two wings of the aircraft broke off on impact... V P
Grace broke off a large piece of the clay... V P n (not pron)
They've torn down wooden fences and broken branches off trees. V n P n, Also V n P
2 phrasal verb If you break off when you are doing or saying something, you suddenly stop doing it or saying it.
Llewelyn broke off in mid-sentence... V P
The commander of the German task force radioed that he was breaking off the action. V P n (not pron), Also V n P
3 phrasal verb If someone breaks off a relationship, they end it.
The two West African states had broken off relations two years ago... pl-n V P n (not pron)
He doesn't seem to have the courage to break it off with her. V it P with n (non-recip) break out
1 phrasal verb If something such as war, fighting, or disease breaks out, it begins suddenly.
He was 29 when war broke out... V P
I was in a nightclub in Brixton and a fight broke out. V P
2 phrasal verb If a prisoner breaks outof a prison, they escape from it.
The two men broke out of their cells and cut through a perimeter fence. V P of n, Also V P
3 phrasal verb If you break outof a dull situation or routine, you manage to change it or escape from it.
It's taken a long time to break out of my own conventional training... V P of n
If her marriage becomes too restrictive, she will break out and seek new horizons. V P
4 phrasal verb If you break outin a rash or a sweat, a rash or sweat appears on your skin.
A person who is allergic to cashews may break out in a rash when he consumes these nuts... V P in n
A line of sweat broke out on her forehead and she thought she might faint. V P break through
1 phrasal verb If you break through a barrier, you succeed in forcing your way through it.
Protesters tried to break through a police cordon... V P n
About fifteen inmates broke through onto the roof. V P
2 phrasal verb If you break through, you achieve success even though there are difficulties and obstacles.
There is still scope for new writers to break through... V P
I broke through the poverty barrier and it was education that did it. V P n
breakthrough break up
1 phrasal verb When something breaks up or when you break it up, it separates or is divided into several smaller parts.
There was a danger of the ship breaking up completely... V P
Break up the chocolate and melt it... V P n (not pron)
He broke the bread up into chunks and gave Meer a big one... V n P into n
Tanks are strongly built. It is a complicated and difficult process to break them up. V n P
2 phrasal verb If you break upwith your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife, your relationship with that person ends.
My girlfriend had broken up with me... V P with n
He felt appalled by the whole idea of marriage so we broke up. pl-n V P
3 phrasal verb If a marriage breaks up or if someone breaks it up, the marriage ends and the partners separate.
MPs say they work too hard and that is why so many of their marriages break up... V P
Fred has given me no good reason for wanting to break up our marriage. V P n (not pron)
4 phrasal verb When a meeting or gathering breaks up or when someone breaks it up, it is brought to an end and the people involved in it leave.
A neighbour asked for the music to be turned down and the party broke up... V P
Police used tear gas to break up a demonstration... V P n (not pron)
He charged into the crowd. `Break it up,' he shouted. V n P
5 phrasal verb When a school or the pupils in it break up, the school term ends and the pupils start their holidays.
(BRIT, Antonym: go back)
It's the last week before they break up, and they're doing all kinds of Christmas things. V P
6 phrasal verb If you say that someone is breaking up when you are speaking to them on a mobile telephone, you mean that you can only hear parts of what they are saying because the signal is interrupted.
The line's gone; I think you're breaking up. V P
When a company reaches break-even point, the money it makes from the sale of goods or services is just enough to cover the cost of supplying those goods or services, but not enough to make a profit. (BUSINESS) n-sing
`Terminator 2' finally made $200 million, which was considered to be the break-even point for the picture.
break-in ( break-ins plural ) If there has been a break-in, someone has got into a building by force. n-count
The break-in had occurred just before midnight.
break-up ( break-ups plural ) , breakup
1 n-count The break-upof a marriage, relationship, or association is the act of it finishing or coming to an end because the people involved decide that it is not working successfully.
usu N of n, n N
...the acrimonious break-up of the meeting's first session., ...a marital break-up.
2 n-count The break-upof an organization or a country is the act of it separating or dividing into several parts.
usu N of n
...the break-up of British Rail for privatisation..., At no time did a majority of Czechoslavakia's citizens support the country's break-up.
career break ( career breaks plural ) If someone takes a career break, they stop working in their particular profession for a period of time, with the intention of returning to it later. (BUSINESS) n-count
Many women still take career breaks to bring up children.
coffee break ( coffee breaks plural ) A coffee break is a short period of time, usually in the morning or afternoon, when you stop working and have a cup of coffee. n-count
It looks like she'll be too busy to stop for a coffee break.
commercial break ( commercial breaks plural ) A commercial break is the interval during a commercial television programme, or between programmes, during which advertisements are shown. n-count
lunch break ( lunch breaks plural ) , lunchbreak Your lunch break is the period in the middle of the day when you stop work in order to have a meal. n-count usu poss N
mini-break ( mini-breaks plural ) A mini-break is a short holiday.
(BRIT, JOURNALISM) n-count
tax break ( tax breaks plural ) If the government gives a tax break to a particular group of people or type of organization, it reduces the amount of tax they have to pay or changes the tax system in a way that benefits them.
(mainly AM) n-count
Today they'll consider tax breaks for businesses that create jobs in inner cities.
tea break ( tea breaks plural ) If you have a tea break, you stop working and have a cup of tea or coffee.
(mainly BRIT) n-count
in AM, use coffee break
tie-break ( tie-breaks plural ) A tie-break is an extra game which is played in a tennis match when the score in a set is 6-6. The player who wins the tie-break wins the set.
(mainly BRIT) n-count
in AM, usually use tie-breaker