break

When you break something, you ruin it. When you take a break, you stop and rest. If you play catch during your lunch break, try not to break any windows.

The verb break means to fracture or crack or destroy something while the noun refers to an interruption or a little time off. To "break the ice" is to warm up a conversation that's a little awkward or cold because the people involved don't know one another. In theater, the superstitious saying "break a leg" is a way of wishing "good luck" without jinxing someone — strange, but true.

PRIMARY MEANINGS OF: break

1
vn
destroy the integrity of; usually by force; cause to separate into pieces or fragments
the act of breaking something
2
vn
interrupt a continued activity
some abrupt occurrence that interrupts an ongoing activity
3
v
become punctured or penetrated
4
vn
move away or escape suddenly
a sudden dash
5
vn
happen or take place
an unexpected piece of good luck
6
vn
change suddenly from one tone quality or register to another
an abrupt change in the tone or register of the voice (as at puberty or due to emotion)
7
vn
make the opening shot that scatters the balls
the opening shot that scatters the balls in billiards or pool
8
n
(tennis) a score consisting of winning a game when your opponent was serving
9
n
any frame in which a bowler fails to make a strike or spare
10
v
separate from a clinch, in boxing
11
v
do a break dance
FULL DEFINITIONS OF: break
1

v destroy the integrity of; usually by force; cause to separate into pieces or fragments

“He broke the glass plate”
“She broke the match”
Synonyms
come apart, fall apart, separate, split up
become separated into pieces or fragments
Types:
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shatter
cause to break into many pieces
fracture
break into pieces
break in
break so as to fall inward
dash, smash
break into pieces, as by striking or knocking over
stave in
break in the staves (of)
blast, knock down
shatter as if by explosion
Type of:
divide, separate
make a division or separation

v weaken or destroy in spirit or body

“His resistance was broken
“a man broken by the terrible experience of near-death”
Type of:
weaken
lessen the strength of

v destroy the completeness of a set of related items

“The book dealer would not break the set”
Synonyms:
break up
Type of:
alter, change, modify
cause to change; make different; cause a transformation

v break a piece from a whole

break a branch from a tree”
Synonyms:
break off, snap off
Type of:
detach
cause to become detached or separated; take off

v fracture a bone of

“I broke my foot while playing hockey”
Synonyms:
fracture
fracture
break (a bone)
Type of:
injure, wound
cause injuries or bodily harm to

v become separated into pieces or fragments

“The figurine broke
Synonyms:
come apart, fall apart, separate, split up
Types:
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break open, burst, split
come open suddenly and violently, as if from internal pressure
puncture
be pierced or punctured
burst, bust
break open or apart suddenly and forcefully
smash
break suddenly into pieces, as from a violent blow
ladder, run
come unraveled or undone as if by snagging
crack, snap
break suddenly and abruptly, as under tension
break up, fragment, fragmentise, fragmentize
break or cause to break into pieces
crush
become injured, broken, or distorted by pressure
pop
burst open with a sharp, explosive sound
blow
burst suddenly
stave, stave in
burst or force (a hole) into something
atomise, atomize
break up into small particles
bray, comminute, crunch, grind, mash
reduce to small pieces or particles by pounding or abrading
pound
break down and crush by beating, as with a pestle
shatter
break into many pieces
sunder
break apart or in two, using violence
sliver, splinter
break up into splinters or slivers
rag
break into lumps before sorting
crumb
break into crumbs
brecciate
break into breccia
crush
break into small pieces
grate, grind
make a grating or grinding sound by rubbing together
Type of:
change integrity
change in physical make-up

v scatter or part

“The clouds broke after the heavy downpour”
Type of:
disperse, dissipate, scatter, spread out
move away from each other

v go to pieces

“The lawn mower finally broke
Synonyms:
bust, fall apart, wear, wear out
bust
ruin completely
Types:
fray, frazzle
wear away by rubbing
Type of:
crumble, decay, dilapidate
fall into decay or ruin

v become fractured; break or crack on the surface only

Synonyms:
check, crack
check, chink
make cracks or chinks in
crack
cause to become cracked
Types:
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crack
break partially but keep its integrity
chap
crack due to dehydration
craze
develop a fine network of cracks
alligator
crack and acquire the appearance of alligator hide, as from weathering or improper application; of paint and varnishes
Type of:
change
undergo a change; become different in essence; losing one's or its original nature

v render inoperable or ineffective

“You broke the alarm clock when you took it apart!”
Synonyms
break down, conk out, die, fail, give out, give way, go, go bad
stop operating or functioning
Type of:
damage
inflict damage upon

v cause the failure or ruin of

“His peccadilloes finally broke his marriage”
“This play will either make or break the playwright”
Antonyms:
make
assure the success of
Type of:
ruin
destroy or cause to fail

v ruin completely

Synonyms:
bust
bust, fall apart, wear, wear out
go to pieces
Antonyms:
bushel, doctor, fix, furbish up, mend, repair, restore, touch on
restore by replacing a part or putting together what is torn or broken
Types:
break down
cause to fall or collapse
Type of:
destroy, ruin
destroy completely; damage irreparably

v reduce to bankruptcy

“My daughter's fancy wedding is going to break me!”
Synonyms:
bankrupt, ruin, smash
Type of:
impoverish
make poor

v invalidate by judicial action

“The will was broken
Type of:
annul, avoid, invalidate, nullify, quash, void
declare invalid

v break down, literally or metaphorically

“The dam broke
Synonyms:
cave in, collapse, fall in, founder, give, give way
abandon, give up
stop maintaining or insisting on; of ideas or claims
burst, collapse
cause to burst
Types:
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go off, implode
burst inward
buckle, crumple
fold or collapse
flop
fall loosely
sink, slide down, slump
fall or sink heavily
Type of:
change
undergo a change; become different in essence; losing one's or its original nature

v fall sharply

“stock prices broke
Type of:
decrease, diminish, fall, lessen
decrease in size, extent, or range

v curl over and fall apart in surf or foam, of waves

“The surf broke
Type of:
cave in, collapse, fall in, founder, give, give way
break down, literally or metaphorically

v act in disregard of laws, rules, contracts, or promises

break a law”
break a promise”
Synonyms:
breach, go against, infract, offend, transgress, violate
Antonyms:
keep, observe
conform one's action or practice to
Types:
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sin, transgress, trespass
commit a sin; violate a law of God or a moral law
blunder, boob, drop the ball, goof, sin
commit a faux pas or a fault or make a serious mistake
conflict, contravene, infringe, run afoul
go against, as of rules and laws
trespass
break the law
intrude, trespass
enter unlawfully on someone's property
fall
yield to temptation or sin
break in
enter someone's (virtual or real) property in an unauthorized manner, usually with the intent to steal or commit a violent act
Type of:
disrespect
show a lack of respect for

v fail to agree with; be in violation of; as of rules or patterns

Synonyms:
go against, violate
Antonyms:
conform to
observe
Types:
fly in the face of, fly in the teeth of
go against

v make submissive, obedient, or useful

“The horse was tough to break
“I broke in the new intern”
Synonyms:
break in
Type of:
domesticate, domesticise, domesticize, reclaim, tame
overcome the wildness of; make docile and tractable

v be broken in

“If the new teacher won't break, we'll add some stress”
Synonyms
break in
make submissive, obedient, or useful
Type of:
change
undergo a change; become different in essence; losing one's or its original nature

v assign to a lower position; reduce in rank

“He was broken down to Sergeant”
Synonyms:
bump, demote, kick downstairs, relegate
Antonyms:
advance, elevate, kick upstairs, promote, raise, upgrade
give a promotion to or assign to a higher position
Types:
sideline
remove from the center of activity or attention; place into an inferior position
reduce
bring to humbler or weaker state or condition
Type of:
assign, delegate, depute, designate
give an assignment to (a person) to a post, or assign a task to (a person)

v lessen in force or effect

break a fall”
Synonyms:
damp, dampen, soften, weaken
Types:
deafen
make soundproof
damp, dampen, deaden
make vague or obscure or make (an image) less visible
Type of:
blunt, deaden
make less lively, intense, or vigorous; impair in vigor, force, activity, or sensation

v exchange for smaller units of money

“I had to break a $100 bill just to buy the candy”
Synonyms
break up
destroy the completeness of a set of related items
Type of:
change, commute, convert, exchange
exchange or replace with another, usually of the same kind or category

n the act of breaking something

Synonyms:
breakage, breaking
Types:
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rupture
the act of making a sudden noisy break
shattering, smashing
the act of breaking something into small pieces
crack, cracking, fracture
the act of cracking something
chip, chipping, splintering
the act of chipping something
Type of:
change of integrity
the act of changing the unity or wholeness of something

n the occurrence of breaking

“the break in the dam threatened the valley”
Types:
snap
a sudden breaking
Type of:
breakup, detachment, separation
coming apart

n breaking of hard tissue such as bone

“the break seems to have been caused by a fall”
Synonyms:
fracture
Types:
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comminuted fracture
fracture in which the bone is splintered or crushed
complete fracture
break involving the entire width of the bone
compound fracture, open fracture
bone fracture associated with lacerated soft tissue or an open wound
compression fracture
fracture in which the bone collapses (especially in short bones such as vertebrae)
depressed fracture
fracture of the skull where the bone is pushed in
displaced fracture
fracture in which the two ends of the broken bone are separated from one another
fatigue fracture, stress fracture
fracture resulting from excessive activity rather than a specific injury
capillary fracture, hairline fracture
a fracture without separation of the fragments and the line of the break being very thin
incomplete fracture
fracture that does not go across the entire width of the bone
impacted fracture
fracture in which one broken end is wedged into the other broken end
closed fracture, simple fracture
an uncomplicated fracture in which the broken bones to not pierce the skin
greenstick fracture
a partial fracture of a bone (usually in children); the bone is bent but broken on only one side
Type of:
harm, hurt, injury, trauma
any physical damage to the body caused by violence or accident or fracture etc.

n (geology) a crack in the earth's crust resulting from the displacement of one side with respect to the other

Synonyms:
fault, faulting, fracture, geological fault, shift
Examples:
Denali Fault
a major open geological fault in Alaska
San Andreas Fault
a major geological fault in California; runs from San Diego to San Francisco; the source of serious earthquakes
Types:
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inclined fault
a geological fault in which one side is above the other
strike-slip fault
a geological fault in which one of the adjacent surfaces appears to have moved horizontally
common fault, gravity fault, normal fault
an inclined fault in which the hanging wall appears to have slipped downward relative to the footwall
overthrust fault, reverse fault, thrust fault
a geological fault in which the upper side appears to have been pushed upward by compression
Type of:
cleft, crack, crevice, fissure, scissure
a long narrow opening
2

v interrupt a continued activity

“She had broken with the traditional patterns”
Synonyms:
break away
Type of:
break up, part, separate, split, split up
discontinue an association or relation; go different ways

v come to an end

“The heat wave finally broke yesterday”
Type of:
cease, end, finish, stop, terminate
have an end, in a temporal, spatial, or quantitative sense; either spatial or metaphorical

v stop operating or functioning

“The bus we travelled in broke down on the way to town”
“The coffee maker broke
Synonyms:
break down, conk out, die, fail, give out, give way, go, go bad
buy the farm, cash in one's chips, choke, conk, croak, decease, die, drop dead, exit, expire, give-up the ghost, go, kick the bucket, pass, pass away, perish, pop off, snuff it
pass from physical life and lose all bodily attributes and functions necessary to sustain life
Types:
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crash, go down
stop operating
blow, blow out, burn out
melt, break, or become otherwise unusable
misfire
fail to fire or detonate
malfunction, misfunction
fail to function or function improperly
jam
get stuck and immobilized
Type of:
change
undergo a change; become different in essence; losing one's or its original nature

v terminate

break a lucky streak”
break the cycle of poverty”
Synonyms:
interrupt
Types:
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hold on, stop
stop and wait, as if awaiting further instructions or developments
break off, break short, cut short
interrupt before its natural or planned end
freeze, suspend
stop a process or a habit by imposing a freeze on it
hang up
interrupt a telephone conversation
Type of:
end, terminate
bring to an end or halt

v prevent completion

break off the negotiations”
Synonyms:
break off, discontinue, stop
Types:
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fracture
become fractured
bog, bog down
get stuck while doing something
break up, cut off, disrupt, interrupt
make a break in
cut, cut off
cease, stop
punctuate
interrupt periodically
put aside, put away
turn away from and put aside, perhaps temporarily
intermit, pause
cease an action temporarily
barge in, break in, butt in, chime in, chisel in, cut in, put in
break into a conversation
burst in on, burst upon
spring suddenly
heckle
challenge aggressively
come in, inject, interject, interpose, put in, throw in
to insert between other elements
block, jam
interfere with or prevent the reception of signals
stop, stop over
interrupt a trip
take off, take time off
take time off from work; stop working temporarily
Type of:
end, terminate
bring to an end or halt

v discontinue an association or relation; go different ways

“The business partners broke over a tax question”
Synonyms:
break up, part, separate, split, split up
Types:
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give the axe, give the bounce, give the gate
terminate a relationship abruptly
break apart, disunify
break up or separate
disassociate, disjoint, dissociate, disunite, divorce
part; cease or break association with
break with
end a relationship
divorce, split up
get a divorce; formally terminate a marriage
break away, secede, splinter
withdraw from an organization or communion
break away
interrupt a continued activity

v cease an action temporarily

“let's break for lunch”
Synonyms:
intermit, pause
Types:
breathe, catch one's breath, rest, take a breather
take a short break from one's activities in order to relax
take five
take a break for five minutes
take ten
take a ten minute break
Type of:
break up, cut off, disrupt, interrupt
make a break in

v diminish or discontinue abruptly

“The patient's fever broke last night”
Type of:
decrease, diminish, fall, lessen
decrease in size, extent, or range

v cause to give up a habit

“She finally broke herself of smoking cigarettes”

v give up

break cigarette smoking”
Type of:
cease, discontinue, give up, lay off, quit, stop
put an end to a state or an activity

v vary or interrupt a uniformity or continuity

“The flat plain was broken by tall mesas”
Type of:
alter, change, vary
become different in some particular way, without permanently losing one's or its former characteristics or essence

v interrupt the flow of current in

break a circuit”
Type of:
break up, cut off, disrupt, interrupt
make a break in

n some abrupt occurrence that interrupts an ongoing activity

“there was a break in the action when a player was hurt”
Synonyms:
interruption
Types:
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dislocation, disruption
an event that results in a displacement or discontinuity
punctuation
something that makes repeated and regular interruptions or divisions
abatement, hiatus, reprieve, respite, suspension
an interruption in the intensity or amount of something
eclipse, occultation
one celestial body obscures another
defervescence
abatement of a fever as indicated by a reduction in body temperature
solar eclipse
the moon interrupts light from the sun
lunar eclipse
the earth interrupts light shining on the moon
total eclipse
an eclipse as seen from a place where the eclipsed body is completely obscured
partial eclipse
an eclipse in which the eclipsed body is only partially obscured
remission, remittal, subsidence
an abatement in intensity or degree (as in the manifestations of a disease)
Type of:
happening, natural event, occurrence, occurrent
an event that happens

n an act of delaying or interrupting the continuity

“it was presented without commercial breaks
Synonyms:
disruption, gap, interruption
Types:
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cut-in, insert
(film) a still picture that is introduced and that interrupts the action of a film
cut-in, insert
(broadcasting) a local announcement inserted into a network program
interjection, interpellation, interpolation, interposition
the action of interjecting or interposing an action or remark that interrupts
abruption, breaking off
an instance of sudden interruption
barracking, heckling
shouting to interrupt a speech with which you disagree
Type of:
delay, holdup
the act of delaying; inactivity resulting in something being put off until a later time

n a time interval during which there is a temporary cessation of something

Synonyms:
intermission, interruption, pause, suspension
Types:
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lapse
a break or intermission in the occurrence of something
blackout
a suspension of radio or tv broadcasting
caesura
a pause or interruption (as in a conversation)
dead air
an inadvertent interruption in a broadcast during which there is no sound
delay, hold, postponement, time lag, wait
time during which some action is awaited
halftime
an intermission between the first and second half of a game
relief, respite, rest, rest period
a pause for relaxation
time-out
a brief suspension of play
letup, lull
a pause during which things are calm or activities are diminished
extension
a mutually agreed delay in the date set for the completion of a job or payment of a debt
breath, breather, breathing place, breathing space, breathing spell, breathing time
a short respite
moratorium
a legally authorized postponement before some obligation must be discharged
retardation
the extent to which something is delayed or held back
Type of:
interval, time interval
a definite length of time marked off by two instants

n a pause from doing something (as work)

“we took a 10-minute break
Synonyms:
recess, respite, time out
Types:
spring break
a week or more of recess during the spring term at school
Type of:
pause
temporary inactivity

n a personal or social separation (as between opposing factions)

“they hoped to avoid a break in relations”
Synonyms:
breach, falling out, rift, rupture, severance
Examples:
Great Schism
the period from 1378 to 1417 during which there were two papacies in the Roman Catholic Church, one in Rome and one in Avignon
Types:
schism
the formal separation of a church into two churches or the withdrawal of one group over doctrinal differences
Type of:
breakup, detachment, separation
coming apart
3

v become punctured or penetrated

“The skin broke

v pierce or penetrate

“The blade broke her skin”
Type of:
penetrate, perforate
pass into or through, often by overcoming resistance

v enter someone's (virtual or real) property in an unauthorized manner, usually with the intent to steal or commit a violent act

“Someone broke in while I was on vacation”
“They broke into my car and stole my radio!”
“who broke into my account last night?”
Synonyms:
break in
Types:
crack
gain unauthorized access computers with malicious intentions
Type of:
intrude, trespass
enter unlawfully on someone's property

v force out or release suddenly and often violently something pent up

break into tears”
Synonyms:
burst, erupt
Type of:
express emotion, express feelings
give verbal or other expression to one's feelings

v find a flaw in

break an alibi”
break down a proof”
Type of:
destroy, ruin
destroy completely; damage irreparably

v find the solution or key to

break the code”
Type of:
figure out, lick, puzzle out, solve, work, work out
find the solution to (a problem or question) or understand the meaning of

v surpass in excellence

break a record”
Synonyms:
better
Type of:
exceed, outdo, outgo, outmatch, outperform, outstrip, surmount, surpass
be or do something to a greater degree

v emerge from the surface of a body of water

“The whales broke
Type of:
appear
come into sight or view
4

v move away or escape suddenly

“The horses broke from the stable”
“Three inmates broke jail”
“Nobody can break out--this prison is high security”
Synonyms:
break away, break out
Type of:
break loose, escape, get away
run away from confinement

v change directions suddenly

Type of:
change, shift, switch
lay aside, abandon, or leave for another

v make a rupture in the ranks of the enemy or one's own by quitting or fleeing

“The ranks broke
Synonyms
break away, break out
move away or escape suddenly
Type of:
flee, fly, take flight
run away quickly

n a sudden dash

“he made a break for the open door”
Types:
fast break
(basketball) a rapid dash to get a shot as soon as possible after taking possession of the ball
Type of:
dash, sprint
a quick run

n an escape from jail

Synonyms:
breakout, gaolbreak, jailbreak, prison-breaking, prisonbreak
Type of:
escape, flight
the act of escaping physically
5

v happen or take place

“Things have been breaking pretty well for us in the past few months”
Type of:
come about, fall out, go on, hap, happen, occur, pass, pass off, take place
come to pass

v happen

Synonyms:
develop, recrudesce
develop
be gradually disclosed or unfolded; become manifest
Type of:
come about, fall out, go on, hap, happen, occur, pass, pass off, take place
come to pass

v come into being

“light broke over the horizon”
“Voices broke in the air”
Type of:
become, get, go
enter or assume a certain state or condition

v come forth or begin from a state of latency

“The first winter storm broke over New York”
Type of:
come forth, emerge
happen or occur as a result of something

v be released or become known; of news

“News of her death broke in the morning”
Synonyms:
get around, get out
bring out, disclose, discover, divulge, expose, give away, let on, let out, reveal, unwrap
make known to the public information that was previously known only to a few people or that was meant to be kept a secret
Types:
leak, leak out
be leaked

v make known to the public information that was previously known only to a few people or that was meant to be kept a secret

“he broke the news to her”
Synonyms:
bring out, disclose, discover, divulge, expose, give away, let on, let out, reveal, unwrap
get around, get out
be released or become known; of news
Types:
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blackwash
bring (information) out of concealment
muckrake
explore and expose misconduct and scandals concerning public figures
blow
cause to be revealed and jeopardized
out
reveal (something) about somebody's identity or lifestyle
come out, come out of the closet, out
to state openly and publicly one's homosexuality
spring
produce or disclose suddenly or unexpectedly
betray, bewray
reveal unintentionally
confide
reveal in private; tell confidentially
leak
tell anonymously
babble, babble out, blab, blab out, let the cat out of the bag, peach, sing, spill the beans, talk, tattle
divulge confidential information or secrets
reveal
disclose directly or through prophets
relieve, unbosom
relieve oneself of troubling information
Type of:
tell
let something be known

n an unexpected piece of good luck

“he finally got his big break
Synonyms:
good luck, happy chance
Type of:
accident, chance event, fortuity, stroke
anything that happens suddenly or by chance without an apparent cause
6

v change suddenly from one tone quality or register to another

“Her voice broke to a whisper when she started to talk about her children”
Type of:
change, shift, switch
lay aside, abandon, or leave for another

v crack; of the male voice in puberty

“his voice is breaking--he should no longer sing in the choir”
Type of:
change state, turn
undergo a transformation or a change of position or action

v undergo breaking

“The simple vowels broke in many Germanic languages”
Type of:
diphthongise, diphthongize
change from a simple vowel to a diphthong

n 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”
Type of:
alteration, change, modification
an event that occurs when something passes from one state or phase to another
7

v make the opening shot that scatters the balls

Type of:
shoot
throw or propel in a specific direction or towards a specific objective

n the opening shot that scatters the balls in billiards or pool

Type of:
shot, stroke
(sports) the act of swinging or striking at a ball with a club or racket or bat or cue or hand
8

n (tennis) a score consisting of winning a game when your opponent was serving

“he was up two breaks in the second set”
Synonyms:
break of serve
Type of:
score
the act of scoring in a game or sport
9

n any frame in which a bowler fails to make a strike or spare

“the break in the eighth frame cost him the match”
Synonyms:
open frame
Type of:
score
the act of scoring in a game or sport
10

v separate from a clinch, in boxing

“The referee broke the boxers”
Type of:
disunite, divide, part, separate
force, take, or pull apart
11

v do a break dance

“Kids were break-dancing at the street corner”
Synonyms:
break dance, break-dance
Type of:
dance, trip the light fantastic, trip the light fantastic toe
move in a pattern; usually to musical accompaniment; do or perform a dance
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