Definition of break down in English:

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break down

1(Of a machine or motor vehicle) suddenly cease to function: his van broke down
More example sentences
  • The washing machine broke down - again - over Christmas.
  • Leaving for class the next day, my car suddenly broke down.
  • If a particular washing machine broke down after seven months of normal use, it would seem probable that there was something wrong with it at the time of sale.
stop working, cease to work/function, go wrong, seize up, give out, develop a fault
informal conk out, go kaput, go on the blink, die, give up the ghost, go phut, have had it
British informal pack up
1.1(Of a relationship, agreement, or process) cease to continue; collapse: pay negotiations with management broke down
More example sentences
  • John is urging owners to pay more consideration to their animals' needs when their marriage or relationship breaks down.
  • Doctors have gone on strike after an agreement with management broke down.
  • After wage negotiations with hospital management broke down last week, the National Medical Workers Union last Thursday voted in favor of a strike.
fail, collapse, come to nothing, founder, fall through, come to grief, be unsuccessful, not succeed, disintegrate
informal fizzle out
1.2Lose control of one’s emotions when in a state of distress: the old woman broke down in tears
More example sentences
  • He tried to keep calm, not wanting to lose control and break down in front of the man who was challenging him.
  • In December 1998 he broke down in tears after losing to a little - known rival from Hong Kong.
  • She was afraid she would lose herself and completely break down.
burst into tears, dissolve into tears;
lose control, be overcome, collapse, go to pieces, come apart at the seams, crumble, disintegrate
1.3(Of a person’s health or emotional control) fail or collapse: his health broke down under the strain of overwork Janet’s normal self-control and impassiveness had broken down utterly
More example sentences
  • In the summer of 1927, the Indian prince's health broke down and he went to Switzerland to recuperate.
  • I nursed my wife for three-and-a-half years until my health broke down.
  • For the next ten years, until his health broke down, he worked with great zeal to establish a public system of elementary education, supervised by a national body of inspectors.
2Undergo chemical decomposition: waste products which break down into low-level toxic materials
More example sentences
  • Ozone also tends to be unstable and break down into dioxygen and nascent oxygen and to react readily with other substances.
  • Rather, large molecules tend to break down into smaller ones.
  • In the chemical reaction, compounds break down to form various gases.
See parent entry: break
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