There are 2 main definitions of break up in English:

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break up 1

1Disintegrate or disperse: the grey clouds had begun to break up
More example sentences
  • The one mass of land began to break up, and the separating continents took with them living cargoes of animals.
  • Pumps were put on the vessel to keep it afloat so that local boats could try and tow it from the rocks but it began to break up after an hour and a half.
  • One of the workers, Sandile Matshini, tells of his lucky escape when a container in which he was sleeping was pulled up a hill as the ship began breaking up.
1.1(Of a gathering or collective) disband; end: after about an hour, the meeting broke up
More example sentences
  • There will even be powers for the police to break up public meetings and gatherings without the need for specific permission from the Home Office or any government minister or department.
  • The police clearly have orders to break up even the smallest gathering despite the fact that freedom of expression and assembly are constitutionally guaranteed.
  • Last March, he and other officers broke up a gathering near the scene of the crash.
come to an end, end, finish, stop, terminate;
adjourn, recess
disperse, scatter, go/move in different directions, go separate ways, disband, separate, part company
1.2chiefly British End the school term: we broke up for the summer
More example sentences
  • The Lowry should be in a class of its own when the schools break up for half term.
  • The school is expected to break up for the summer term today with many students sitting Leaving and Junior Cert exams next week.
  • Schools break up for their half term this Friday, October 22 and return on Tuesday, November 2.
1.3(Of a couple in a relationship) part company: I was heartbroken when we broke up
More example sentences
  • But our relationship soon fell apart and we broke up a couple weeks later.
  • We broke up a couple of years back and don't talk any more.
  • The couple broke up and the stress of life as a single mother pushed her to the brink of a nervous breakdown.
split up, separate, part, stop living together, part company, reach a parting of the ways, become estranged;
divorce, get divorced, get a divorce
British informal bust up
1.4(Of a radio or telephone signal) be interrupted by interference.
Example sentences
  • I found him eventually on an obscure community station that kept breaking up with static and interference from taxi drivers.
  • You're driving on an empty highway and your radio starts breaking up.
  • Indoors, more often than not, the signal breaks up when something cuts your invisible tether to the heavens.
1.5chiefly North American Start laughing uncontrollably: the whole cast broke up
More example sentences
  • Everybody broke up laughing, according to the police reports - except, of course, Julius.
  • There were a couple of times we'd break up laughing when I'd catch someone turning to look at me in a wide shot.
burst out laughing, start to laugh, roar with laughter, dissolve into laughter, shake with laughter, laugh uncontrollably, guffaw, be doubled up, split one's sides, hold one's sides
informal fall about, be in stitches, crack up, crease up, be creased up, be rolling in the aisles, laugh like a drain
1.6chiefly North American Become emotionally upset.
See parent entry: break
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There are 2 main definitions of break up in English:

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break-up 2

Pronunciation: /ˈbreɪkʌp/


1The separation or breaking up of something into several pieces or sections: the break-up of the Ottoman Empire large quantities of oil are released after the break-up of a tanker
More example sentences
  • The break-up of London bus workers into separate companies has led to huge differences in the earnings of drivers across the capital.
  • In that year, however, the break-up of the USSR implied the break-up of the forces.
1.1The end of a relationship: a marriage break-up
More example sentences
  • Family Mediation Services helps families through the trauma of marriage and relationship break-ups.
  • For a start, marriage break-ups are on the increase, which often results in people taking on a mortgage later in life.
  • The organisation is running adverts in the farming press this week urging people to contact them to talk about their concerns regarding relationship break-ups.
end, termination, dissolution, splitting up;
British informal bust-up

Words that rhyme with break-up

make-up, shake-up, take-up

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: break-up

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