Break - definition, pronunciation, transcription

Amer.  |breɪk|  American pronunciation of the word break
Brit.  |breɪk|  British pronunciation of the word break
irregular verb:  p.t. — broke  p.p. — broken


- some abrupt occurrence that interrupts an ongoing activity (syn: interruption)
there was a break in the action when a player was hurt
- an unexpected piece of good luck
he finally got his big break
- (geology) a crack in the earth's crust resulting from the displacement of one side with respect to the other (syn: fault, fracture, shift)
- a personal or social separation (as between opposing factions) (syn: breach, rift, rupture, severance)
they hoped to avoid a break in relations
- a pause from doing something (as work) (syn: recess, respite)
we took a 10-minute break
- the act of breaking something (syn: breakage, breaking)
the breakage was unavoidable
- a time interval during which there is a temporary cessation of something (syn: intermission, interruption, pause, suspension)
- breaking of hard tissue such as bone (syn: fracture)
the break seems to have been caused by a fall
- the occurrence of breaking
the break in the dam threatened the valley
- an abrupt change in the tone or register of the voice (as at puberty or due to emotion)
then there was a break in her voice
- the opening shot that scatters the balls in billiards or pool
- (tennis) a score consisting of winning a game when your opponent was serving
he was up two breaks in the second set
- an act of delaying or interrupting the continuity (syn: disruption, gap, interruption)
it was presented without commercial breaks
- a sudden dash
he made a break for the open door
- any frame in which a bowler fails to make a strike or spare
the break in the eighth frame cost him the match
- an escape from jail (syn: breakout, jailbreak, prison-breaking)
the breakout was carefully planned


- terminate (syn: interrupt)
break a lucky streak
break the cycle of poverty
- become separated into pieces or fragments (syn: come apart, separate, split up)
- render inoperable or ineffective
- ruin completely (syn: bust)
- destroy the integrity of; usually by force; cause to separate into pieces or fragments
- act in disregard of laws, rules, contracts, or promises (syn: breach, offend, transgress, violate)
break a law
break a promise
- move away or escape suddenly (syn: break away, break out)
Nobody can break out--this prison is high security
- scatter or part
- force out or release suddenly and often violently something pent up (syn: burst, erupt)
break into tears
- prevent completion (syn: break off, discontinue, stop)
break off the negotiations
- enter someone's (virtual or real) property in an unauthorized manner, usually with the intent to steal or commit a violent act (syn: break in)
- make submissive, obedient, or useful (syn: break in)
The horse was tough to break
- fail to agree with; be in violation of; as of rules or patterns (syn: violate)
- surpass in excellence (syn: better)
break a record
- make known to the public information that was previously known only to a few people or that was meant to be kept a secret (syn: bring out, disclose, discover, divulge, expose, give away, let on, let out, reveal, uncover, unwrap)
- come into being
- stop operating or functioning (syn: break down, conk out, die, fail, give out, go)
- interrupt a continued activity (syn: break away)
- make a rupture in the ranks of the enemy or one's own by quitting or fleeing
- curl over and fall apart in surf or foam, of waves
- lessen in force or effect (syn: damp, dampen, soften, weaken)
break a fall
- be broken in
If the new teacher won't break, we'll add some stress
- come to an end
- vary or interrupt a uniformity or continuity
- cause to give up a habit
- give up
break cigarette smoking
- come forth or begin from a state of latency
- happen or take place
Things have been breaking pretty well for us in the past few months
- cause the failure or ruin of
This play will either make or break the playwright
- invalidate by judicial action
- discontinue an association or relation; go different ways (syn: break up, part, separate, split, split up)
- assign to a lower position; reduce in rank (syn: bump, demote, relegate)
- reduce to bankruptcy (syn: bankrupt, ruin, smash)
My daughter's fancy wedding is going to break me!
- change directions suddenly
- emerge from the surface of a body of water
- break down, literally or metaphorically (syn: cave in, collapse, fall in, founder, give)
- do a break dance
Kids were break-dancing at the street corner
- exchange for smaller units of money
I had to break a $100 bill just to buy the candy
- destroy the completeness of a set of related items (syn: break up)
The book dealer would not break the set
- make the opening shot that scatters the balls
- separate from a clinch, in boxing
- go to pieces (syn: bust, wear, wear out)
- break a piece from a whole (syn: break off, snap off)
break a branch from a tree
- become punctured or penetrated
- pierce or penetrate
- be released or become known; of news (syn: get around, get out)
- cease an action temporarily (syn: intermit, pause)
let's break for lunch
- interrupt the flow of current in
break a circuit
- undergo breaking
- find a flaw in
break an alibi
break down a proof
- find the solution or key to
break the code
- change suddenly from one tone quality or register to another
- happen (syn: develop, recrudesce)
- become fractured; break or crack on the surface only (syn: check, crack)
- crack; of the male voice in puberty
his voice is breaking--he should no longer sing in the choir
- fall sharply
- fracture a bone of (syn: fracture)
- diminish or discontinue abruptly
- weaken or destroy in spirit or body

Extra examples

She broke the cup when she dropped it on the floor.

Break the chocolate bar into pieces so that everyone can have some.

It is easiest to break a chain at its weakest link.

A chain will break at its weakest link.

The fall broke his arm.

His arm broke in three places when he fell.

A bruise forms when a blood vessel breaks under the skin.

The tank is reinforced to prevent breaks and leaks.

There was a break in the hedge.

We waited for a break in the traffic.

The fields extend for miles without a break.

We chatted during a break in the game.

All employees are entitled to two breaks during the workday.

We've been working all day without a break.

He fell through the window, breaking the glass.

Phrasal verbs

break away  — move away or escape suddenly
break down  — make ineffective
break in  — enter someone's (virtual or real) property in an unauthorized manner, usually with the intent to steal or commit a violent act
break off  — interrupt before its natural or planned end
break out  — start abruptly
break through  — pass through (a barrier)
break up  — to cause to separate and go in different directions

Word forms

I/you/we/they: break
he/she/it: breaks
present participle: breaking
past tense: broke
past participle: broken
singular: break
plural: breaks
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