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(1)   An escape from jail
"The breakout was carefully planned"
(2)   Any frame in which a bowler fails to make a strike or spare
"The break in the eighth frame cost him the match"
(3)   A sudden dash
"He made a break for the open door"
(4)   The act of breaking something
"The breakage was unavoidable"
(5)   An act of delaying or interrupting the continuity
"It was presented without commercial breaks"
"There was a gap in his account"
(6)   (tennis) a score consisting of winning a game when your opponent was serving
"He was up two breaks in the second set"
(7)   The opening shot that scatters the balls in billiards or pool
(8)   A pause from doing something (as work)
"We took a 10-minute break"
"He took time out to recuperate"
(9)   An abrupt change in the tone or register of the voice (as at puberty or due to emotion)
"Then there was a break in her voice"
(10)   A personal or social separation (as between opposing factions)
"They hoped to avoid a break in relations"
(11)   An unexpected piece of good luck
"He finally got his big break"
(12)   The occurrence of breaking
"The break in the dam threatened the valley"
(13)   Some abrupt occurrence that interrupts an ongoing activity
"The telephone is an annoying interruption"
"There was a break in the action when a player was hurt"
(14)   (geology) a crack in the earth's crust resulting from the displacement of one side with respect to the other
"They built it right over a geological fault"
"He studied the faulting of the earth's crust"
(15)   Breaking of hard tissue such as bone
"It was a nasty fracture"
"The break seems to have been caused by a fall"
(16)   A time interval during which there is a temporary cessation of something


(17)   Fracture a bone of
"I broke my foot while playing hockey"
(18)   Fall sharply
"Stock prices broke"
(19)   Crack; of the male voice in puberty
"His voice is breaking--he should no longer sing in the choir"
(20)   Render inoperable or ineffective
"You broke the alarm clock when you took it apart!"
(21)   Become separated into pieces or fragments
"The figurine broke"
"The freshly baked loaf fell apart"
(22)   Happen
"Report the news as it develops"
"These political movements recrudesce from time to time"
(23)   Prevent completion
"Stop the project"
"Break off the negotiations"
(24)   Terminate
"She interrupted her pregnancy"
"Break a lucky streak"
"Break the cycle of poverty"
(25)   Lessen in force or effect
"Soften a shock"
"Break a fall"
(26)   Stop operating or functioning
"The engine finally went"
"The car died on the road"
"The bus we travelled in broke down on the way to town"
"The coffee maker broke"
"The engine failed on the way to town"
"Her eyesight went after the accident"
(27)   Come into being
"Light broke over the horizon"
"Voices broke in the air"
(28)   Find the solution or key to
"Break the code"
(29)   Find a flaw in
"Break an alibi"
"Break down a proof"
(30)   Undergo breaking
"The simple vowels broke in many Germanic languages"
(31)   Cease an action temporarily
"We pause for station identification"
"Let's break for lunch"
(32)   Make known to the public information that was previously known only to a few people or that was meant to be kept a secret
"The auction house would not disclose the price at which the van Gogh had sold"
"The actress won't reveal how old she is"
"Bring out the truth"
"He broke the news to her"
"Unwrap the evidence in the murder case"
(33)   Be released or become known; of news
"News of her death broke in the morning"
(34)   Surpass in excellence
"She bettered her own record"
"Break a record"
(35)   Pierce or penetrate
"The blade broke her skin"
(36)   Break a piece from a whole
"Break a branch from a tree"
(37)   Go to pieces
"The lawn mower finally broke"
"The gears wore out"
"The old chair finally fell apart completely"
(38)   Ruin completely
"He busted my radio!"
(39)   Separate from a clinch, in boxing
"The referee broke the boxers"
(40)   Force out or release suddenly and often violently something pent up
"Break into tears"
"Erupt in anger"
(41)   Do a break dance
"Kids were break-dancing at the street corner"
(42)   Curl over and fall apart in surf or foam, of waves
"The surf broke"
(43)   Emerge from the surface of a body of water
"The whales broke"
(44)   Scatter or part
"The clouds broke after the heavy downpour"
(45)   Move away or escape suddenly
"The horses broke from the stable"
"Three inmates broke jail"
"Nobody can break out--this prison is high security"
(46)   Reduce to bankruptcy
"My daughter's fancy wedding is going to break me!"
"The slump in the financial markets smashed him"
(47)   Assign to a lower position; reduce in rank
"She was demoted because she always speaks up"
"He was broken down to Sergeant"
(48)   Interrupt a continued activity
"She had broken with the traditional patterns"
(49)   Cause the failure or ruin of
"His peccadilloes finally broke his marriage"
"This play will either make or break the playwright"
(50)   Act in disregard of laws, rules, contracts, or promises
"Offend all laws of humanity"
"Violate the basic laws or human civilization"
"Break a law"
"Break a promise"
(51)   Fail to agree with; be in violation of; as of rules or patterns
"This sentence violates the rules of syntax"
(52)   Give up
"Break cigarette smoking"
(53)   Cause to give up a habit
"She finally broke herself of smoking cigarettes"
(54)   Vary or interrupt a uniformity or continuity
"The flat plain was broken by tall mesas"


. Compare Dutch , German , and Gothic . Cognate with Latin .


  1. To end up in two or more pieces that can't easily be reassembled.
    If the vase falls to the floor, it might break.
  2. Of a bone, to crack or fracture through a sudden physical strain, such as a collision.
    Don't slip and break your leg.
    Then his fifth metatarsal broke.
  3. Of a bone, to cause to crack under physical strain.
    Don't try to break his neck.
  4. Of a bone, to fracture accidentally.
    Don't break your fingers playing basketball.
  5. To stop functioning properly or altogether.
    On the hottest day of the year the fridge broke.
  6. To interrupt or cease one's work or occupation temporarily.
    Let's break for lunch.
  7. To win a game as receiver.
    He needs to break serve to win the match.
  8. To make the first shot.
    Is it your or my turn to break?
  9. To cause to end up in two or more pieces.
    I am going to break your mask.
  10. To cause to malfunction or stop working altogether.
    Did you two break the trolley by racing with it?
  11. To cause a person or animal to lose his/her/its will, usually obtained by means of torture.
    You have to break an elephant before you can use it as an animal of burden.
    America has used many forms of torture to break their POWs.
  12. To do that which is forbidden by (a rule or rules).
    When you go to Vancouver, promise me you won't break the law.
  13. To collapse into surf, after arriving in shallow water.
  14. To design or use a powerful (yet legal) strategy that unbalances the game in a player's favor.
    Letting white have three extra queens would break chess.
  15. to disclose or make known an item of news etc
  16. to end
    The forecast says the hot weather will break by midweek
  17. To ruin financially.
    Local economic problems broke some smaller banks.
  18. To divide into smaller units.
    The wholesaler broke the container loads into palettes and boxes for local retailers.
    Can you break a hundred-dollar bill for me?
  19. to arrive
    Morning has broken.
    Dawn broke over the hills.

Usage notes

The sense relating to a spell of weather is most likely to be used after a period of persistent good or bad weather; it is rarely used to signify the end of changeable conditions.


burst, bust, shatter, shear, smash, split crack, fracture crack, fracture crack, fracture break down, bust, fail, go down (of a computer or computer network) interrupt, pause shatter, smash bust subject, tame contravene, go against, violate


carry on, continue, go on, restart, resume assemble, fix, join, mend, put together, repair hold


  1. An instance of breaking something into two pieces.
    The femur has a clean break and so should heal easily.
  2. A physical space that opens up in something or between two things.
    The sun came out in a break in the clouds.
  3. A rest or pause, usually from work; a breaktime.
    Let’s take a five-minute break.
  4. A game won by the receiving player or players (when playing doubles).
  5. The first shot in a game of billiards
  6. The number of points scored by one player in one visit to the table
  7. Place where waves break (ie. pitch or spill forward creating white water).
    2005: The final break in the Greenmount area is Kirra Point. — coolangatta.net http://www.coolangatta.net/coolangatta/surfbreaks.html
  8. A short section of music, often between verses, in which some performers stop while others continue.
    The fiddle break was amazing, it was a pity the singer came back in on the wrong note.
  9. a change; the end of a spell of persistent good or bad weather

Usage notes

The instruments that are named are the ones that carry on playing, for example a fiddle break implies that the fiddle is the most prominent instrument playing during the break.