break1 W1S1 [breık] v past tense broke [brəuk US brouk] past participle broken [ˈbrəukən US ˈbrou-]
1¦(separate into pieces)¦
7¦(end something)¦
8¦(defeat somebody)¦
9¦(destroy an organization)¦
14¦(somebody's voice)¦
16 break a habit
17 break a record
18 break a journey
19 break somebody's heart
20 break a strike
21 break a link/tie/connection
22 break the skin
23 break the back of something
24 break the bank
25 break somebody's concentration
26 break the silence
27 break somebody's spirit
28 break somebody's power
29 break the ice
30 break a code
31 break wind
32 break (somebody's) serve
Phrasal verbs
 break away
 break down
 break for something
 break in
 break into something
 break somebody of something
 break off
 break out
 break through
 break up
 break with somebody/something
[: Old English; Origin: brecan]
a) [T]
if you break something, you make it separate into two or more pieces, for example by hitting it, dropping it, or bending it
I had to break a window to get into the house.
Don't lean on the fence like that - you'll break it!
break sth in half/two
He broke the biscuit in half and handed one piece to me.
Break the chocolate into small pieces and melt it over a gentle heat.
if something breaks, it separates into two or more pieces
He kept pulling at the rope until it broke.
The frames are made of plastic and they tend to break quite easily.
2.) ¦(BONES)¦ [T]
to damage a bone in your body by making it crack or split
She fell downstairs and broke her hip.
3.) ¦(MACHINES)¦
a) [T]
to damage a machine so that it does not work properly
Don't mess about with my camera - you'll break it.
Someone's broken the TV.
b) [I]
if a machine breaks, it stops working properly
The washing machine's broken again.
4.) ¦(RULES/LAWS)¦ [T]
to disobey a rule or law
They're breaking the law by employing such young children.
If you break the rules you will be punished.
The police are determined to catch motorists who break the speed limit.
to not do something that you have promised to do or signed an agreement to do
I never break my promises .
You betrayed me. You broke your word .
break an agreement/contract
He was worried that he might be breaking his contract.
6.) ¦(STOP/REST)¦ [I]
to stop for a short time in order to have a rest or eat something
break for
Shall we break for lunch now?
to stop something from continuing
We need to break the cycle of poverty and crime in the inner cities.
We took turns driving, in order to try and break the monotony.
New talks will begin on Monday in an effort to break the deadlock .
to make someone feel that they have been completely defeated and they cannot continue working or living
Losing his business nearly broke him.
I won't give in. I won't be broken by him.
to damage an organization so badly that it no longer has any power
The government finally succeeded in breaking the unions.
10.) ¦(DAY/DAWN)¦ [I]
when the day or the ↑dawn breaks, the sky gets light
Dawn was breaking by the time we arrived home.
11.) ¦(STORM)¦ [I]
if a storm breaks, it begins
We were keen to get back to the hotel before the storm broke.
12.) ¦(WEATHER)¦ [I]
if the weather breaks, it suddenly changes and becomes cold or wet
The following day the weather broke and we had ten days of solid rain.
13.) ¦(WAVES)¦ [I]
when waves break, they fall onto the land at the edge of the water
We sat and watched the waves breaking on the shore
a) when a boy's voice breaks, it becomes lower and starts to sound like a man's voice
He was fifteen, and his voice was just beginning to break.
b) if your voice breaks, it does not sound smooth because you are feeling strong emotions
Her voice broke as she told us what had happened.
15.) ¦(NEWS)¦
a) [I]
if news about an important event breaks, it becomes known
News of his resignation broke yesterday afternoon.
The minister has refused to give any interviews since the scandal broke.
b) [T]
if you break unpleasant news to someone, you tell it to them
I didn't know how I was going to break the news to my mother.
The doctor finally broke it to me that there was no cure.
16.) break a habit
to stop doing something that you do regularly, especially something that you should not do
a new drug which helps smokers to break their habit
17.) break a record
to do something even faster or even better than the previous best time, amount etc
an attempt to break the 10,000 metres world record
18.) break a journey
[i]BrE to stop somewhere for a short time during a long journey
We decided to break our journey in Oxford.
19.) break sb's heart
to make someone very unhappy by ending a relationship with them or doing something that upsets them a lot
He broke my heart when he left me.
It would break her heart if she lost her children.
It'll break your father's heart if you tell him you're giving up college.
20.) break a strike
to force workers to end a ↑strike
The government has threatened to bring in the army to break the 10 month old strike.
21.) break a link/tie/connection
to end a relationship with a person or organization
The US has now broken all diplomatic links with the regime.
Sometimes it is necessary to break family ties in order to protect the child.
22.) break the skin
to cut the skin on your body
Their teeth are sharp enough the break the skin.
23.) break the back of sth
to finish the main or worst part of something
I think we've broken the back of the job now.
24.) break the bank
to cost a lot of money, or more money than you have
A new hard drive doesn't have to break the bank.
25.) break sb's concentration
to interrupt someone and stop them from being able to continue thinking or talking about something
The slightest sound would break his concentration.
26.) break the silence
to end a period of silence by talking or making a noise
The silence was broken by a loud scream.
27.) break sb's spirit
to destroy someone's feeling of determination
They could not break her spirit.
The spirit of our soldiers will never be broken.
28.) break sb's power
to take away someone's position of power or control
At last the power of the church was finally broken.
29.) break the ice informal
to make people feel more friendly and willing to talk to each other
Sam's arrival broke the ice and people began to talk and laugh.
30.) break a code
to succeed in understanding something that is written in a secret way
Scientists worked day and night to break the code.
31.) break wind
to allow gas to escape from your bottom, making a noise and an unpleasant smell
32.) break (sb's) serve
to win a game in tennis when your opponent is starting the game by hitting the ball first
Hewitt broke serve twice in the second set.
break away phr v
1.) to leave a group or political party and form another group, usually because of a disagreement
More than 30 Labour MPs broke away to form a new left-wing party.
break away from
They broke away from the national union and set up their own local organization.
2.) to leave your home, family, or job and become independent
break away from
I felt the need to break away from home.
3.) to move away from someone who is holding you
She started crying and tried to break away.
break away from
She broke away from him and ran to the door.
4.) to move away from other people in a race or game
Radcliffe broke away 200 metres before the finish.
5.) to become loose and no longer attached to something
Part of the plane's wing had broken away.
break down phr v
1.) if a car or machine breaks down, it stops working
The car broke down just north of Paris.
The printing machines are always breaking down.
2.) to fail or stop working in a successful way
Negotiations broke down after only two days.
I left London when my marriage broke down.
3.) break sth<=>down
if you break down a door, you hit it so hard that it breaks and falls to the ground
Police had to break down the door to get into the flat.
4.) break sth<=>down
to change or remove something that prevents people from working together and having a successful relationship with each other
Getting young people together will help to break down the barriers between them.
It takes a long time to break down prejudices.
5.) if a substance breaks down or something breaks it down, it changes as a result of a chemical process
break sth<=>down
Food is broken down in the stomach.
Bacteria are added to help break down the sewage.
6.) to be unable to stop yourself crying, especially in public
He broke down and cried.
She broke down in tears when she heard the news.
7.) break sth<=>down
to separate something into smaller parts so that it is easier to do or understand
He showed us the whole dance, then broke it down so that we could learn it more easily.
The question can be broken down into two parts.
break for [break for sth] phr v
to suddenly run towards something, especially in order to escape from someone
He broke for the door, but the guards got there before he did.
break in phr v
1.) to enter a building by using force, in order to steal something
Thieves broke in and stole £10,000 worth of computer equipment.
2.) to interrupt someone when they are speaking
break in on
I didn't want to break in on his telephone conversation.
break in with
Dad would occasionally break in with an amusing comment.
3.) break sth<=>in
to make new shoes or boots less stiff and more comfortable by wearing them
I went for a walk to break in my new boots.
4.) break sb in
to help a person get used to a certain way of behaving or working
She's quite new to the job so we're still breaking her in.
5.) break sth<=>in
to teach a young horse to carry people on its back
We break the horses in when they're about two years old.
break into [break into sth] phr v
1.) to enter a building or car by using force, in order to steal something
Someone broke into my car and stole the radio.
Her house was broken into last week.
2.) to become involved in a new job or business activity
She made an attempt to break into journalism.
It's a profession that is very hard to break into.
Many British firms have failed in their attempts to break into the American market.
3.) to start to spend money that you did not want to spend
I don't want to break into my savings unless I have to.
4.) break into a run/trot etc
to suddenly start running
He broke into a run as he came round the corner.
5.) break into a smile/a song/applause etc
to suddenly start smiling, singing etc
Her face broke into a smile.
He suddenly broke into song.
The audience broke into loud applause.
break of [break sb of sth] phr v
to make someone stop having a bad habit
Try to break yourself of the habit of eating between meals.
break off phr v
1.) to suddenly stop talking
She started to speak, then broke off while a waitress served us coffee.
He broke off in mid-sentence to shake hands with the new arrivals.
break sth<=>off
I broke off the conversation and answered the phone.
2.) break sth<=>off
to end a relationship
She broke off their engagement only a few weeks before they were due to be married.
The US has broken off diplomatic relations with the regime.
3.) if something breaks off, or if you break it off, it comes loose and is no longer attached to something else
One of the car's wing mirrors had broken off.
break sth<=>off
He broke off a piece of bread.
break out phr v
1.) if something unpleasant such as a fire, fight, or war breaks out, it starts to happen
I was still living in London when the war broke out.
Does everyone know what to do if a fire breaks out?
Fighting broke out between demonstrators and the police.
2.) to escape from a prison
break out of
Three men have broken out of a top security jail.
3.) to change the way you live because you feel bored
break out of
She felt the need to break out of her daily routine.
4.) break out in spots/a rash/a sweat etc
if you break out in spots etc, they appear on your skin
I broke out in a painful rash.
My whole body broke out in a sweat.
break through phr v
1.) break through (sth)
to manage to get past or through something that is in your way
Several demonstrators broke through the barriers despite warnings from the police.
After hours of fierce fighting, rebels broke through and captured the capital.
2.) break through (sth)
if the sun breaks through, you can see it when you could not see it before because there were clouds
The sun broke through at around lunch time.
The sun soon broke through the mist.
3.) to manage to do something successfully when there is a difficulty that is preventing you
He's a very talented young actor who's just ready to break through.
break through into
It is possible that at this election some of the minority parties might succeed in breaking through into parliament.
break up phr v
1.) if something breaks up, or if you break it up, it breaks into a lot of small pieces
It seems that the plane just broke up in the air.
break sth<=>up
Use a fork to break up the soil.
2.) break sth<=>up
to separate something into several smaller parts
There are plans to break the company up into several smaller independent companies.
You need a few trees and bushes to break up the lawn.
3.) break sth<=>up
to stop a fight
Three policemen were needed to break up the fight.
4.) break sth<=>up
to make people leave a place where they have been meeting or protesting
Government soldiers broke up the demonstration .
Police moved in to break up the meeting .
5.) if a marriage, group of people, or relationship breaks up, the people in it separate and do not live or work together any more
He lost his job and his marriage broke up .
The couple broke up last year.
Many bands break up because of personality clashes between the musicians.
break up with
Has Sam really broken up with Lucy?
6.) if a meeting or party breaks up, people start to leave
The party didn't break up until after midnight.
The meeting broke up without any agreement.
7.) BrE when a school breaks up, it closes for a holiday
School breaks up next week.
break up for
When do you break up for Easter?
8.) break sb up
AmE informal to make someone laugh by saying or doing something funny
He really breaks me up!
break with / [break with sb/sth] phr v
1.) to leave a group of people or an organization, especially because you have had a disagreement with them
She had broken with her family years ago.
They broke with the Communist Party and set up a new party.
2.) break with tradition/the past
to stop following old customs and do something in a completely different way
Now is the time to break with the past.
His work broke with tradition in many ways.
WORD FOCUS: words meaning break
smash with a lot of force
shatter into many pieces
split into two pieces
snap into two pieces, with a sudden loud noise
tear paper/cloth
burst pipe/tyre/balloon
crumble break into a lot of small pieces
disintegrate break into a lot of small pieces and be destroyed
fracture if a bone fractures or you fracture it, it breaks slightly so that a small line appears on the surface
break 2
break2 W2S2 n
1¦(stop working)¦
2¦(stop doing something)¦
4¦(at school)¦
5¦(on tv)¦
6¦(something stops happening)¦
7¦(end a relationship)¦
13 break with tradition/the past
14 make a break for something
15 give me/it a break!
16 give somebody a break
17 the break of day
a period of time when you stop working in order to rest, eat etc
We'll have a short break for lunch, then start again at 2 o'clock.
Let's take a ten-minute break .
We'd worked for ten hours without a break .
I'll go shopping during my lunch break .
You'll just have to stay in at break time and do it again.
a period of time when you stop doing something before you start again
break from
I wanted a break from university life.
She decided to take a career break when she had children.
break in
a welcome break in my normal routine
3.) ¦(HOLIDAY)¦
a short holiday
I was beginning to feel that I needed a break.
We flew off for a week's break in Spain.
They're offering weekend breaks in Paris for only a hundred pounds.
the Easter/Christmas etc break
Are you looking forward to the summer break?
4.) ¦(AT SCHOOL)¦[U]
the time during the school day when classes stop and teachers and students can rest, eat, play etc
at break
I'll speak to you at break.
They get together with their friends at break time .
5.) ¦(ON TV)¦
a pause for advertisements during a television or radio programme
Join us again after the break.
We'll be back with more after a short break.
a period of time when something stops happening before it starts again
break in
We'll go for a walk if there's a break in the rain.
Latecomers will be admitted at a suitable break in the performance.
She waited for a break in the conversation.
There was no sign of a break in the weather (=an improvement in bad weather) .
7.) ¦(END A RELATIONSHIP)¦ [singular]
a time when you leave a person or group, or end a relationship with someone
I wanted a clean break so that I could restart my life.
It was years before I plucked up enough courage to make the break and leave him.
break with
He was beginning to regret his break with the Labour Party.
8.) ¦(SPACE/HOLE)¦
a space or hole in something
break in
We crawled through a break in the hedge.
The sun shone through a break in the clouds.
9.) ¦(CHANCE)¦ informal
a sudden or unexpected chance to do something that allows you to become successful in your job
There are hundreds of young musicians out there looking for their first break.
He got his first big break in 1998.
a lucky break
10.) ¦(BONES)¦
the place where a bone in your body has broken
It's quite a bad break, which will take several months to heal.
11.) ¦(TENNIS)¦
a situation in a game of tennis in which you win a game when your opponent is starting the game by hitting the ball first
She really needs a break of serve now if she wants to win this match.
12.) ¦(SNOOKER)¦
the number of points that a player wins when it is their turn to hit the ball in a game such as ↑snooker
13.) break with tradition/the past
a time when people stop following old customs and do something in a completely different way
It is time for a complete break with the past.
14.) make a break for sth
to suddenly start running towards something in order to escape from a place
As soon as the guard's back was turned they made a break for the door.
Two of the prisoners made a break for it but were soon recaptured.
15.) give me/it a break!
spoken used when you want someone to stop doing or saying something that is annoying you
16.) give sb a break
spoken to stop being strict with someone so that a situation becomes easier for them
Give the kid a break. It's only his second day on the job.
17.) the break of day
literary the time early in the morning when it starts getting light
COLLOCATES for sense 1
have/take a break
do something without a break
lunch break
coffee/tea break
break time BrE (=the times during the school day when there are no lessons)

Dictionary of contemporary English. 2013.

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  • Break — (br[=a]k), v. i. 1. To come apart or divide into two or more pieces, usually with suddenness and violence; to part; to burst asunder. [1913 Webster] 2. To open spontaneously, or by pressure from within, as a bubble, a tumor, a seed vessel, a bag …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • break — [brāk] vt. broke, broken, breaking [ME breken < OE brecan < IE base * bhreg > BREACH, BREECH, Ger brechen, L frangere] 1. to cause to come apart by force; split or crack sharply into pieces; smash; burst 2. a) …   English World dictionary

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  • Break — (br[=a]k), n. [See {Break}, v. t., and cf. {Brake} (the instrument), {Breach}, {Brack} a crack.] 1. An opening made by fracture or disruption. [1913 Webster] 2. An interruption of continuity; change of direction; as, a break in a wall; a break in …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • break up — {v.} 1. To break into pieces. * /The workmen broke up the pavement to dig up the pipes under it./ * /River ice breaks up in the spring./ 2. {informal} To lose or destroy spirit or self control. Usually used in the passive. * /Mrs. Lawrence was… …   Dictionary of American idioms

  • break up — {v.} 1. To break into pieces. * /The workmen broke up the pavement to dig up the pipes under it./ * /River ice breaks up in the spring./ 2. {informal} To lose or destroy spirit or self control. Usually used in the passive. * /Mrs. Lawrence was… …   Dictionary of American idioms

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