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.

Definitions of break
  1. verb
    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
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    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
  2. verb
    weaken or destroy in spirit or body
    “His resistance was broken
    “a man broken by the terrible experience of near-death”
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    type of:
    weaken
    lessen the strength of
  3. verb
    destroy the completeness of a set of related items
    “The book dealer would not break the set”
    synonyms: break up
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    type of:
    alter, change, modify
    cause to change; make different; cause a transformation
  4. verb
    break a piece from a whole
    break a branch from a tree”
    synonyms: break off, snap off
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    type of:
    detach
    cause to become detached or separated; take off
  5. verb
    fracture a bone of
    “I broke my foot while playing hockey”
    synonyms: fracture
    fracture
    break (a bone)
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    type of:
    injure, wound
    cause injuries or bodily harm to
  6. verb
    become separated into pieces or fragments
    “The figurine broke
    synonyms: come apart, fall apart, separate, split up
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    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
  7. verb
    scatter or part
    “The clouds broke after the heavy downpour”
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    type of:
    disperse, dissipate, scatter, spread out
    move away from each other
  8. verb
    go to pieces
    “The lawn mower finally broke
    synonyms: bust, fall apart, wear, wear out
    bust
    ruin completely
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    types:
    fray, frazzle
    wear away by rubbing
    type of:
    crumble, decay, dilapidate
    fall into decay or ruin
  9. verb
    become fractured; break or crack on the surface only
    synonyms: check, crack
    check, chink
    make cracks or chinks in
    crack
    cause to become cracked
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    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
  10. verb
    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
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    type of:
    damage
    inflict damage upon
  11. verb
    cause the failure or ruin of
    “His peccadilloes finally broke his marriage”
    “This play will either make or break the playwright”
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    Antonyms:
    make
    assure the success of
    type of:
    ruin
    destroy or cause to fail
  12. verb
    ruin completely
    synonyms: bust
    bust, fall apart, wear, wear out
    go to pieces
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    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
  13. verb
    reduce to bankruptcy
    “My daughter's fancy wedding is going to break me!”
    synonyms: bankrupt, ruin, smash
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    type of:
    impoverish
    make poor
  14. verb
    invalidate by judicial action
    “The will was broken
  15. verb
    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
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    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
  16. verb
    fall sharply
    “stock prices broke
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    type of:
    decrease, diminish, fall, lessen
    decrease in size, extent, or range
  17. verb
    curl over and fall apart in surf or foam, of waves
    “The surf broke
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    type of:
    cave in, collapse, fall in, founder, give, give way
    break down, literally or metaphorically
  18. verb
    act in disregard of laws, rules, contracts, or promises
    break a law”
    break a promise”
    synonyms: breach, go against, infract, offend, transgress, violate
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    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
  19. verb
    fail to agree with; be in violation of; as of rules or patterns
    synonyms: go against, violate
    see moresee less
    Antonyms:
    conform to
    observe
    types:
    fly in the face of, fly in the teeth of
    go against
  20. verb
    make submissive, obedient, or useful
    “The horse was tough to break
    “I broke in the new intern”
    synonyms: break in
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    type of:
    domesticate, domesticise, domesticize, reclaim, tame
    overcome the wildness of; make docile and tractable
  21. verb
    be broken in
    “If the new teacher won't break, we'll add some stress”
    Synonyms:
    break in
    make submissive, obedient, or useful
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    type of:
    change
    undergo a change; become different in essence; losing one's or its original nature
  22. verb
    assign to a lower position; reduce in rank
    “He was broken down to Sergeant”
    synonyms: bump, demote, kick downstairs, relegate
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    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)
  23. verb
    lessen in force or effect
    break a fall”
    synonyms: damp, dampen, dilute, soften, weaken
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    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
  24. verb
    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
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    type of:
    change, commute, convert, exchange
    exchange or replace with another, usually of the same kind or category
  25. noun
    the act of breaking something
    synonyms: breakage, breaking
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    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
  26. noun
    the occurrence of breaking
    “the break in the dam threatened the valley”
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    types:
    snap
    a sudden breaking
    type of:
    breakup, detachment, separation
    coming apart
  27. noun
    breaking of hard tissue such as bone
    “the break seems to have been caused by a fall”
    synonyms: fracture
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    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.
  28. noun
    (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
    see moresee less
    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
  29. verb
    interrupt a continued activity
    “She had broken with the traditional patterns”
    synonyms: break away
    see moresee less
    type of:
    break up, part, separate, split, split up
    discontinue an association or relation; go different ways
  30. verb
    come to an end
    “The heat wave finally broke yesterday”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    cease, end, finish, stop, terminate
    have an end, in a temporal, spatial, or quantitative sense; either spatial or metaphorical
  31. verb
    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
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    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
  32. verb
    terminate
    break a lucky streak”
    break the cycle of poverty”
    synonyms: interrupt
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    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
  33. verb
    prevent completion
    break off the negotiations”
    synonyms: break off, discontinue, stop
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    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
    interject
    speak abruptly, especially as an interruption
    type of:
    end, terminate
    bring to an end or halt
  34. verb
    discontinue an association or relation; go different ways
    “The business partners broke over a tax question”
    synonyms: break up, part, separate, split, split up
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    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
  35. verb
    cease an action temporarily
    “let's break for lunch”
    synonyms: intermit, pause
    see moresee less
    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
  36. verb
    diminish or discontinue abruptly
    “The patient's fever broke last night”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    decrease, diminish, fall, lessen
    decrease in size, extent, or range
  37. verb
    cause to give up a habit
    “She finally broke herself of smoking cigarettes”
  38. verb
    give up
    break cigarette smoking”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    cease, discontinue, give up, lay off, quit, stop
    put an end to a state or an activity
  39. verb
    vary or interrupt a uniformity or continuity
    “The flat plain was broken by tall mesas”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    alter, change, vary
    become different in some particular way, without permanently losing one's or its former characteristics or essence
  40. verb
    interrupt the flow of current in
    break a circuit”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    break up, cut off, disrupt, interrupt
    make a break in
  41. noun
    some abrupt occurrence that interrupts an ongoing activity
    “there was a break in the action when a player was hurt”
    synonyms: interruption
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    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
    the phenomenon when 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
  42. noun
    an act of delaying or interrupting the continuity
    “it was presented without commercial breaks
    synonyms: disruption, gap, interruption
    see moresee less
    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
  43. noun
    a time interval during which there is a temporary cessation of something
    synonyms: intermission, interruption, pause, suspension
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    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
  44. noun
    a pause from doing something (as work)
    “we took a 10-minute break
    synonyms: recess, respite, time out
    see moresee less
    types:
    spring break
    a week or more of recess during the spring term at school
    recess
    a break in the school day for play or relaxation
    type of:
    pause
    temporary inactivity
  45. noun
    a personal or social separation (as between opposing factions)
    “they hoped to avoid a break in relations”
    synonyms: breach, falling out, rift, rupture, severance
    see moresee less
    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
  46. verb
    become punctured or penetrated
    “The skin broke
  47. verb
    pierce or penetrate
    “The blade broke her skin”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    penetrate, perforate
    pass into or through, often by overcoming resistance
  48. verb
    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
    see moresee less
    types:
    crack
    gain unauthorized access computers with malicious intentions
    type of:
    intrude, trespass
    enter unlawfully on someone's property
  49. verb
    force out or release suddenly and often violently something pent up
    break into tears”
    synonyms: burst, erupt
    see moresee less
    type of:
    express emotion, express feelings
    give verbal or other expression to one's feelings
  50. verb
    find a flaw in
    break an alibi”
    break down a proof”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    destroy, ruin
    destroy completely; damage irreparably
  51. verb
    find the solution or key to
    break the code”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    figure out, lick, puzzle out, solve, work, work out
    find the solution to (a problem or question) or understand the meaning of
  52. verb
    surpass in excellence
    break a record”
    synonyms: better
    see moresee less
    type of:
    exceed, outdo, outgo, outmatch, outperform, outstrip, surmount, surpass
    be or do something to a greater degree
  53. verb
    emerge from the surface of a body of water
    “The whales broke
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    type of:
    appear
    come into sight or view
  54. verb
    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
    see moresee less
    type of:
    break loose, escape, get away
    run away from confinement
  55. verb
    change directions suddenly
    see moresee less
    type of:
    change, shift, switch
    lay aside, abandon, or leave for another
  56. verb
    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
    see moresee less
    type of:
    flee, fly, take flight
    run away quickly
  57. noun
    a sudden dash
    “he made a break for the open door”
    see moresee less
    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
  58. noun
    an escape from jail
    synonyms: breakout, gaolbreak, jailbreak, prison-breaking, prisonbreak
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    type of:
    escape, flight
    the act of escaping physically
  59. verb
    happen or take place
    “Things have been breaking pretty well for us in the past few months”
  60. verb
    happen
    synonyms: develop, recrudesce
    develop
    be gradually disclosed or unfolded; become manifest
  61. verb
    come into being
    “light broke over the horizon”
    “Voices broke in the air”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    become, get, go, wax
    enter or assume a certain state or condition
  62. verb
    come forth or begin from a state of latency
    “The first winter storm broke over New York”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    come forth, emerge
    happen or occur as a result of something
  63. verb
    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
    see moresee less
    types:
    leak, leak out
    be leaked
  64. verb
    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
    see moresee less
    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
  65. noun
    an unexpected piece of good luck
    “he finally got his big break
    synonyms: good luck, happy chance
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    type of:
    accident, chance event, fortuity, stroke
    anything that happens suddenly or by chance without an apparent cause
  66. verb
    change suddenly from one tone quality or register to another
    “Her voice broke to a whisper when she started to talk about her children”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    change, shift, switch
    lay aside, abandon, or leave for another
  67. verb
    crack; of the male voice in puberty
    “his voice is breaking--he should no longer sing in the choir”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    change state, turn
    undergo a transformation or a change of position or action
  68. verb
    undergo breaking
    “The simple vowels broke in many Germanic languages”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    diphthongise, diphthongize
    change from a simple vowel to a diphthong
  69. noun
    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”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    alteration, change, modification
    an event that occurs when something passes from one state or phase to another
  70. verb
    make the opening shot that scatters the balls
    see moresee less
    type of:
    shoot
    throw or propel in a specific direction or towards a specific objective
  71. noun
    the opening shot that scatters the balls in billiards or pool
    see moresee less
    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
  72. noun
    (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
    see moresee less
    type of:
    score
    the act of scoring in a game or sport
  73. noun
    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
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    type of:
    score
    the act of scoring in a game or sport
  74. verb
    separate from a clinch, in boxing
    “The referee broke the boxers”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    disunite, divide, part, separate
    force, take, or pull apart
  75. verb
    do a break dance
    “Kids were break-dancing at the street corner”
    synonyms: break dance, break-dance
    see moresee less
    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
Word Family