An amazing discovery or a huge amount of progress can be called a breakthrough. The discovery of penicillin in 1928 was a breakthrough for modern medicine.

A personal breakthrough might be overcoming your fear of spiders once and for all. A bigger breakthrough, one that affects many people, is the invention of indoor plumbing. There's a sense of suddenness and drama associated with most breakthroughs. The word started out with a military meaning of literally "breaking through a barrier" in 1918. By the 1930s, it came to have the second meaning of "abrupt solution."

Primary Meanings of breakthrough

making an important discovery
a penetration of a barrier such as an enemy's defense
Full Definitions of breakthrough

n making an important discovery

Type of:
discovery, find, uncovering
the act of discovering something

n a productive insight

discovery, find
Type of:
brainstorm, brainwave, insight
the clear (and often sudden) understanding of a complex situation

n a penetration of a barrier such as an enemy's defense

Type of:
incursion, penetration
an attack that penetrates into enemy territory

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