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break is one of the 1000 most common headwords.




Plain form

Third person singular

Simple past

Past participle

Present participle

  1. (transitive & intransitive) If you break something, you make it come apart in a way that cannot easily be put back together, usually by force.
    He injured his leg and broke his arm during the crash.
    When my brother died, my family broke apart.
    The airplane broke apart in the sky over Hawai'i.
    When the ice broke underneath me, I said to myself, I'm in trouble.
  2. (transitive & intransitive) If something such as a machine breaks, it stops working because something is wrong.
    My car breaks down about once a week.
  3. (transitive) If you break a law, rule, promise, etc. you do something that you should not do.
    The police can't do anything if no laws are broken.
    These are the rules. Don't break the rules and I won't send you home.
  4. (transitive) If you break a surface, limit, record, etc., you go beyond it.
    In 1954 he set a new record of 3:59.4, breaking the old record by more than five minutes.
    Wilson broke barriers for women in journalism at a time when newsrooms were mostly male.
  5. (intransitive) If you break free or out of something, you could not leave but now you leave.
    The police are looking for some prisoners who broke out of the jail.
    One of the dogs broke loose and ran at her.
    When she closed the door, everyone broke into laughter.
  6. (intransitive) If you break, you stop for a short time to rest.
    We break for coffee at 10:00 every morning.
  7. (intransitive) If day or morning breaks, it begins.
    The day was breaking as they packed up the tent.
    Dawn was just breaking when Helga Schneider climbed out of bed.
  8. (transitive & intransitive) If you break something, you stop it suddenly.
    The sound of the door closing broke the silence.
    I didn't know my father, but with my son, I want to break that cycle of fathers leaving their sons.
    The show had been so magical that people didn't want to leave the theater, didn't want to break the spell.
    Smoking is such a hard habit to break.
    Mike had to leave to break up a fight between Ronni and Bridget.
    The rain finally broke on Monday evening.
  9. (intransitive) If news breaks, it becomes known.
  10. (intransitive) If your voice breaks, it changes because you are almost crying.
    "I wanted to say goodbye before he died", she said, her voice breaking.
  11. (transitive) If you break some money, you change a note into coins.
    I don't want to break a twenty just to buy matches.


Related words[change]




  1. (countable) A break is a time when something stops before starting again.
    We get a 15-minute break in the middle of the morning.
    I'll phone you during my lunch break.
    Thanks for watching. We're going to take a one-minute commercial break and we'll be right back.
  2. (countable) A break (up) is an end of a relationship.
    We didn't see each other for years after the break up.
  3. (countable) A break is a space between something continuous.
    The sun shone through a break in the clouds.
  4. (countable) A 'break is a situation in which things are not as difficult.
    That job opening up just when she finished school was a lucky break for her.
    Give me a break.
    The new law would give middle-income families a $2,000 tax break.
  5. (countable) A break is a place where something is broken.
    The break in his leg could be seen clearly on the x-ray.



Related words and phrases[change]