Definition of collapse in English:

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Pronunciation: /kəˈlaps/


[no object]
1(Of a structure) fall down or in; give way: the roof collapsed on top of me
More example sentences
  • The structure suddenly collapsed, sending lecturer and papers sprawling.
  • We can be reminded of the horror and the technical horror of these great structures collapsing.
  • Eye witness reports said part of the roofing structure collapsed onto a walkway which in turn buckled, causing the disaster.
cave in, fall in, subside, fall down, give (way), crumple, buckle, sag, slump
1.1 [with object] Cause (something) to fall in or give way: it feels as if the slightest pressure would collapse it figurative many people tend to collapse the distinction between the two concepts
More example sentences
  • Or the pressure could collapse the hole altogether.
  • Issuing a message to unionists, he also urged them against alienating nationalists by collapsing the devolved institutions.
  • The effect would be a level of military involvement that would serve to collapse the distinction between inspection and invasion/occupation.
1.2(Of a lung or blood vessel) fall inward and become flat and empty: (as adjective collapsed) a collapsed lung
More example sentences
  • A posterolateral thoracotomy was performed and the chest was entered through the fifth interspace, with the left lung collapsed.
  • He had sustained a penetrating bullet wound to his chest on the right side. Air had rushed into his chest and his right lung collapsed.
  • The operation was long and difficult and Emily spent four weeks in hospital undergoing physiotherapy because her lungs had collapsed.
1.3 [with object] Cause (a lung or blood vessel) to do this.
Example sentences
  • In addition, a thin layer of liquid lining the alveoli exerts surface tension, tending to collapse the lungs, although this surface tension is greatly decreased by the presence of surfactant.
  • The left lung was collapsed and superiorly encased by tumor.
  • Medical tests have established that the amount of pressure needed to occlude the arteries is six times less than the pressure needed to collapse the airway.
2(Of a person) fall down and become unconscious, typically through illness or injury: he collapsed from loss of blood
More example sentences
  • Horrified holidaymakers looked on as Jack collapsed unconscious following the accident, and a helicopter was called in to airlift him off the side of the mountain.
  • A York pensioner found collapsed at home with mysterious head injuries was fighting for his life in hospital today.
  • A man had collapsed in Victoria Place in the town and was unconscious.
faint, pass out, black out, lose consciousness, keel over, swoon
informal conk out
2.1Sit or lie down as a result of tiredness or amusement: exhausted, he collapsed on the bed the three of them collapsed with laughter
More example sentences
  • A couple of years ago, as she was reaching the pinnacle of her career, she returned from an international book tour so exhausted that she collapsed into bed and slept for 24 hours.
  • Three days later, Shuttlesworth rose from bed, where he had remained since collapsing from exhaustion at the Gaston Motel press conference.
  • I hung up the phone and then collapsed in exhaustion onto my bed.
3(Of an institution or undertaking) fail suddenly and completely: in the face of such resolve his opposition finally collapsed
More example sentences
  • When the tin market collapsed in the 80s, tens of thousands of unemployed miners turned to the cultivation of Bolivia's other major export - coca leaf.
  • The trial of a chief constable's staff officer accused of stealing a hi-fi from a police property store collapsed after a jury failed to reach a verdict on two charges of theft and one of forgery.
  • Needless to say, the BC treaty process has collapsed and failed to produce any results, so you have a very desperate situation in our communities.
break down, fail, fall through, fold, founder, miscarry, come to grief, be unsuccessful;
informal flop, fizzle out
3.1(Of a price or currency) drop suddenly in value.
Example sentences
  • When the Indonesian currency collapsed, the retail price of soya escalated, making the cooking oil far too expensive for the bulk of the people to afford.
  • It was perceived as a safe option as it would hold its value when other assets and currencies collapsed in value.
  • The chancellor had ordered a review of North Sea taxation in 1997, but was forced to put it on a back burner a year later when the oil price collapsed.
4Fold or be folded to fit into a small space: [no object]: some cots collapse down to fit into a bag
More example sentences
  • With another command, the Runabout's wings collapsed into themselves and folded up into their stowage position.
  • The behavior of these disks differs from a number of systems that collapse by forming folds which extend hundreds of microns into the aqueous phase.
  • The new building certainly looks extraordinary, collapsing in on itself, in folds and twists which defy the eye.
4.1 [with object] Compress a displayed part of (a spreadsheet or other electronic document): tabulation programs can be used to collapse this list in various ways


1An instance of a structure falling down or in: the collapse of a railroad bridge the church roof is in danger of collapse
More example sentences
  • Parts of the nave wall, which had fallen with the collapse of the tower in 1744, were re-built, a lowpitched roof and ceiling were added and galleries were installed.
  • Painting over the rust conceals, but does not postpone, the inevitable collapse of a rotten structure.
  • Fears have been growing about the safety of the structure since the near collapse of the former Marshall Snelgrove store in St Nicholas Street over the summer.
cave-in, subsidence
1.1A sudden failure of an institution or undertaking: the collapse of the Ottoman Empire
More example sentences
  • Sure, an economic collapse or political shock could reverse these gains.
  • Some of the more spectacular failures include the collapse of Pan American Airways in 1991.
  • A sudden collapse of the pound could lead to equal and opposite problems, such as galloping inflation.
breakdown, failure, disintegration;
1.2A physical or mental breakdown: he suffered a collapse from overwork she’s lying there in a state of collapse
More example sentences
  • Within three weeks of Castillon, Henry VI suffered a mental and physical collapse which lasted for 17 months and from which he may never have fully recovered.
  • Yet Christiane is also weak, suffering a mental collapse when her husband flees to the West, and refusing to live her life the way she wants to out of fear.
  • Hölder was offered a post in Tübingen in 1889 but unfortunately he suffered a mental collapse.
breakdown, nervous breakdown, personal crisis, psychological trauma
informal crack-up


Early 17th century (as collapsed): from medical Latin collapsus, past participle of collabi, from col- 'together' + labi 'to slip'.

Words that rhyme with collapse

apse, craps, elapse, lapse, perhaps, schnapps

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: col·lapse

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