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verb (past broke /brōk/; past participle broken /ˈbrōkən/)
1separate or cause to separate into pieces as a result of a blow, shock, or strain: [no object]:the rope broke with a loud snap the slate fell from my hand and broke in two on the hard floor [with object]:windows in the street were broken by the blast break the chocolate into pieces sustain an injury involving the fracture of a bone or bones in a part of the body: [with object]:she had broken her leg in two places [no object]:what if his leg had broken? [with object] cause a cut or graze in (the skin):the bite had scarcely broken the skin make or become inoperative: [no object]:the machine has broken, and they can’t fix it until next week [with object]:he’s broken the video (of the amniotic fluid surrounding a fetus) be or cause to be discharged when the sac is ruptured in the first stages of labor: [no object]:she realized her water had broken [with object] open (a safe) forcibly. [with object] use (a piece of paper currency) to pay for something and receive change out of the transaction:she had to break a ten [no object] (of two boxers or wrestlers) come out of a clinch, typically at the referee’s command:I was acting as referee and telling them to break [with object] unfurl (a flag or sail). [with object] succeed in deciphering (a code). [with object] open (a shotgun or rifle) at the breech. [with object] disprove (an alibi). [with object] invalidate (a will) through legal process. 2 [with object] interrupt (a continuity, sequence, or course):the new government broke the pattern of growth his concentration was broken by a sound put an end to (a silence) by speaking or making contact. make a pause in (a journey):we will break our journey in Venice [no object] stop proceedings in order to have a pause or vacation:at mid-morning they broke for coffee lessen the impact of (a fall):she put out an arm to break her fall stop oneself from being subject to (a habit). put an end to (a tie in a game) by making a score. [no object] (chiefly of an attacking player or team, or of a military force) make a rush or dash in a particular direction:the flight broke to the right and formed a defensive circle surpass (a record):the movie broke box-office records disconnect or interrupt (an electrical circuit). [no object] (of a pitched baseball) curve or drop on its way toward the batter. [no object] Soccer (of the ball) rebound unpredictably:the ball broke to Craig but his shot rebounded from the post [no object] (of a bowled cricket ball) change direction on bouncing, due to spin. 3 [with object] fail to observe (a law, regulation, or agreement):the district attorney says she will prosecute retailers who break the law a legally binding contract that can only be broken by mutual consent fail to continue with (a self-imposed discipline):diets started without preparation are broken all the time 4 [with object] crush the emotional strength, spirit, or resistance of:the idea was to better the prisoners, not to break them [no object] (of a person’s emotional strength) give way:her self-control finally broke destroy the power of (a movement or organization). destroy the effectiveness of (a strike), typically by bringing in other people to replace the striking workers. 5 [no object] undergo a change or enter a new state, in particular. (of the weather) change suddenly:the weather broke, and thunder rumbled through a leaden sky (of a storm) begin violently. (of dawn or day) begin with the sun rising:dawn was just breaking (of clouds) move apart and begin to disperse. (of waves) curl over and dissolve into foam:the Caribbean sea breaking gently on the shore (of the voice) falter and change tone, due to emotion:her voice broke as she relived the experience (of a boy’s voice) change in tone and register at puberty. Phonetics (of a vowel) develop into a diphthong, under the influence of an adjacent sound: (as noun breaking)breaking due to a following r or h (of prices on the stock exchange) fall sharply. (of news or a scandal) suddenly become public:since the news broke I’ve received thousands of wonderful letters [with object]
(break something to someone
) make bad news known to someone.
make the first stroke at the beginning of a game of billiards, pool, or snooker.
1an interruption of continuity or uniformity:the magazine has been published without a break since 1950 an act of separating oneself from a state of affairs:a break with the past [with modifier] a change of line, paragraph, or page:dotted lines on the screen show page breaks a curve or drop in the path of a pitched baseball. a change of tone in the voice due to emotion:there was a break in her voice now an interruption in an electrical circuit. a rush or dash in a particular direction, especially by an attacking player or team:he made a bounce pass for a basket on the break in the second quarter a breakout, especially from prison. a sudden decrease, typically in prices. informal an opportunity or chance, especially one leading to professional success:his big break came when a critic gave him a rave review (also break of serve or service break) Tennis the winning of a game against an opponent’s serve. 2a pause in work or during an activity or event:I need a break from mental activity they take long coffee breaks those returning to work after a career break a short vacation:the Christmas break a short solo or instrumental passage in jazz or popular music. 3a gap or opening:the spectacular vistas occasionally offered by a break in the rain forest he stopped to wait for a break in the traffic 4an instance of breaking; the point where something is broken:a break in the valve was being repaired 5 Billiards
& Snooker a player’s turn to make the opening shot of a game or a rack.
a consecutive series of successful shots, scoring a specified number of points:a break of 83 put him in front for the first time
1(of a machine or motor vehicle) suddenly cease to function:his van broke down (of a person) have the vehicle they are driving cease to function:she broke down on the highway (of a relationship, agreement, or process) cease to continue; collapse:pay negotiations with management broke down lose control of one’s emotions when in a state of distress:if she had tried to utter a word, she would have broken down the old woman broke down in tears (of a person’s health or emotional control) fail or collapse:his health broke down under the strain of overwork 2undergo chemical decomposition:waste products that break down into low-level toxic materials
1demolish a door or other barrier:they had to get the police to break the door down figurativerace barriers can be broken down by educational reform 2separate something into parts:each tutorial is broken down into more manageable units analyze information:bar graphs show how the information can be broken down convert a substance into simpler compounds by chemical action:almost every natural substance can be broken down by bacteria
1force entry to a building:it sounded like someone trying to break in 2 [with direct speech] interject:“I don’t want to interfere,” Mrs. Hendry broke in
1enter or open a (place, vehicle, or container) forcibly, typically for the purposes of theft:four men broke into the house a friend of mine had his car broken into succeed in winning a share of (a market or a position in a profession):Japanese companies failed to break into the US personal-computer market interrupt (a conversation). 2(of a person) suddenly or unexpectedly burst forth into (laughter or song). (of a person’s face or mouth) relax into (a smile). 3change one’s pace to (a faster one):Greg broke into a sprint
The different forms of the verb are: (breaks, breaking; the past tense is broke and the past participle is broken)
.Do not confuse break
. See brake.