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—v., broke or (Archaic) brake; bro•ken or (Archaic) broke; break•ing;
1. to smash, split, or divide into parts violently; reduce to pieces or fragments: He broke a vase.
2. to infringe, ignore, or act contrary to (a law, rule, promise, etc.): She broke her promise.
3. to dissolve or annul (often fol. by off): to break off friendly relations with another country.
4. to fracture a bone of (some part of the body): He broke his leg.
5. to lacerate; wound: to break the skin.
6. to destroy or interrupt the regularity, uniformity, continuity, or arrangement of; interrupt: The bleating of a foghorn broke the silence. The troops broke formation.
7. to put an end to; overcome; stop: His touchdown run broke the tie. She found it hard to break the cigarette habit.
8. to discover the system, key, method, etc., for decoding or deciphering (a cryptogram), esp. by the methods of cryptanalysis.
9. to remove a part from (a set or collection): She had to break the set to sell me the two red ones I wanted.
10. to exchange for or divide into smaller units or components: She broke a dollar bill into change. The prism broke the light into all the colors of the rainbow.
11. to make a way through; penetrate: The stone broke the surface of the water.
a. to open or force one's way into (a dwelling, store, etc.).
b. to contest (a will) successfully by judicial action.
13. to make one's way out of, esp. by force: to break jail.
14. to better (a given score or record): He never broke 200 in bowling or 80 in golf.
15. to disclose or divulge personally in speech or writing: He broke the good news to her at dinner.
16. to solve: The police needed only a week to break that case.
17. to rupture (a blood vessel): She almost broke a blood vessel from laughing so hard.
18. to disable or destroy by or as if by shattering or crushing: to break a watch.
19. to cause (a blister, boil, or the like) to burst, as by puncturing: She broke the blister with a needle.
20. to ruin financially; make bankrupt: They threatened to break him if he didn't stop discounting their products.
21. to overcome or wear down the spirit, strength, or resistance of; to cause to yield, esp. under pressure, torture, or the like: They broke him by the threat of blackmail.
22. to dismiss or reduce in rank.
23. to impair or weaken the power, effect, or intensity of: His arm broke the blow.
24. to train to obedience; tame: to break a horse.
25. to train away from a habit or practice (usually fol. by of).
26. Elect.to render (a circuit) incomplete; stop the flow of (a current).
a. to release (a story) for publication or airing on radio or television: They will break the story tomorrow.
b. to continue (a story or article) on another page, esp. when the page is not the following one.
28. Pool.to cause (racked billiard balls) to scatter by striking with the cue ball.
a. (of a pitcher, bowler, etc.) to hurl (a ball) in such a way as to cause it to change direction after leaving the hand: He broke a curve over the plate for a strike.
b. (in tennis and other racket games) to score frequently or win against (an opponent's serve).
30. Naut.to unfurl (a flag) suddenly by an easily released knot.
31. to prove the falsity or show the lack of logic of: The FBI broke his alibi by proving he knew how to shoot a pistol.
32. to begin or initiate (a plan or campaign), esp. with much publicity: They were going to break the sales campaign with a parade in April.
33. to open the breech or action of (a shotgun, rifle, or revolver), as by snapping open the hinge between the barrel and the butt.
1. to shatter, burst, or become broken; separate into parts or fragments, esp. suddenly and violently: The glass broke on the floor.
2. to become suddenly discontinuous or interrupted; stop abruptly: She pulled too hard and the string broke.
3. to become detached, separated, or disassociated (usually fol. by away, off, or from): The knob broke off in his hand.
4. to become inoperative or to malfunction, as through wear or damage: The television set broke this afternoon.
5. to begin suddenly or violently or change abruptly into something else: War broke over Europe.
6. to begin uttering a sound or series of sounds or to be uttered suddenly: She broke into song. When they entered, a cheer broke from the audience.
7. to express or start to express an emotion or mood: His face broke into a smile.
8. to free oneself or escape suddenly, as from restraint or dependency (often fol. by away): He broke away from the arresting officer. She finally broke away from her parents and got an apartment of her own.
9. to run or dash toward something suddenly (usually fol. by for): The pass receiver broke for the goal line.
10. to force a way (usually fol. by in, into, or through): The hunters broke through the underbrush.
11. to burst or rupture: A blood vessel broke in his nose. The blister broke when he pricked it.
12. to interrupt or halt an activity (usually fol. by in, into, forth, or from): Don't break in on the conversation. Let's break for lunch.
13. to appear or arrive suddenly (usually fol. by in, into, or out): A deer broke into the clearing. A rash broke out on her arm.
14. to dawn: The day broke hot and sultry.
15. to begin violently and suddenly: The storm broke.
16. (of a storm, foul weather, etc.) to cease: The weather broke after a week, and we were able to sail for home.
17. to part the surface of water, as a jumping fish or surfacing submarine.
18. to give way or fail, as health, strength, or spirit; collapse: After years of hardship and worry, his health broke.
19. to yield or submit to pressure, torture, or the like: He broke under questioning.
20. (of the heart) to be overwhelmed with sorrow: Her heart broke when he told her that he no longer loved her.
21. (of the voice or a musical instrument) to change harshly from one register or pitch to another: After his voice broke, he could no longer sing soprano parts.
22. (of the voice) to cease, waver, or change tone abruptly, esp. from emotional strain: His voice broke when he mentioned her name.
23. (of value or prices) to drop sharply and considerably.
24. to disperse or collapse by colliding with something: The waves broke on the shore.
25. to break dance.
26. (of a horse in a harness race) to fail to keep to a trot or pace, as by starting to gallop.
27. Bot.to mutate; sport.
28. Ling.to undergo breaking.
29. Billiards, Pool.to make a break; take the first turn in a game.
30. Sports.(of a pitched or bowled ball) to change direction: The ball broke over the plate.
31. Horse Racing, Track.to leave the starting point: The horses broke fast from the gate.
32. Boxing.to step back or separate from a clinch: The fighters fell into a clinch and broke on the referee's order.
33. to take place; occur.
34. Journalism.to become known, published, or aired: The story broke in the morning papers.
35. Hort.to produce flowers or leaves.
36. break away,
a. to leave or escape, esp. suddenly or hurriedly.
b. to sever connections or allegiance, as to tradition or a political group.
c. to start prematurely: The horse broke away from the starting gate.
37. break back, Tennis.to win a game served by an opponent immediately after the opponent has done so against one's own serve.
38. break bulk, Naut.to remove a cargo wholly or in part.
39. break camp, to pack up tents and equipment and resume a journey or march: They broke camp at dawn and proceeded toward the mountains.
40. break down,
a. to become ineffective.
b. to lose control; weaken: He broke down and wept at the sad news.
c. to have a physical or mental collapse.
d. to cease to function: The car broke down.
e. to itemize: to break down a hotel bill into daily charges.
f. Chem.to separate (a compound) into its constituent molecules.
g. Elect.(of an insulator) to fail, as when subjected to excessively high voltage, permitting a current to pass.
h. to decompose.
i. to analyze.
j. to classify.
k. to separate into constituent parts: to break down a beef carcass into basic cuts.
41. break even, to finish a business transaction, period of gambling, series of games, etc., with no loss or gain: He played poker all night and broke even.
42. break ground,
a. to begin construction, esp. of a building or group of buildings: to break ground for a new housing development.
b. Naut.to free an anchor from the bottom; break out.
43. break in,
a. to enter by force or craft: Someone broke in and made off with all the furniture.
b. to train or instruct; initiate: The boss is breaking in a new assistant.
c. to begin to wear or use in order to make comfortable: These shoes haven't been broken in.
d. to interrupt: He broke in with a ridiculous objection.
e. to run (new machinery) initially under reduced load and speed, until any stiffness of motion has departed and all parts are ready to operate under normal service conditions; run in; wear in.
44. break in on or upon, to enter with force upon or accidentally interrupt; intrude upon: The visitor opened the wrong door and broke in on a private conference.
45. break into,
a. to interpose; interrupt: He broke into the conversation at a crucial moment.
b. to begin some activity.
c. to be admitted into; enter, as a business or profession: It is difficult to break into the theater.
d. to enter by force: They broke into the store and stole the safe.
46. break it down, Australian Slang.
a. stop it; calm down.
b. (used as an exclamation of disbelief) that can't be true!
47. break off,
a. to sever by breaking.
b. to stop suddenly; discontinue: to break off a conversation; to break off relations with one's neighbors.
48. break one's heart. See heart (def. 19).
49. break out,
a. to begin abruptly; arise: An epidemic broke out.
b. Pathol.(of certain diseases) to appear in eruptions.
c. (of a person) to manifest a skin eruption.
d. to prepare for use: to break out the parachutes.
e. to take out of (storage, concealment, etc.) for consumption: to break out one's best wine.
f. Naut.to dislodge (the anchor) from the bottom.
g. to escape; flee: He spent three years in prison before he broke out.
h. to separate into categories or list specific items: to break out gift ideas according to price range; The report breaks out quarterly profits and losses.
50. break service, Tennis.to win a game served by one's opponent.
51. break sheer, Naut.(of an anchored vessel) to drift into such a position as to risk fouling the anchor or anchor cable. Cf. sheer2 (def. 6).
52. break step. See step (def. 20).
53. break up,
a. to separate; scatter.
b. to put an end to; discontinue.
c. to divide or become divided into pieces.
d. to dissolve.
e. to disrupt; upset: Television commercials during a dramatic presentation break up the continuity of effect.
f. (of a personal relationship) to end: to break up a friendship; Their marriage broke up last year.
g. to end a personal relationship: Bob and Mary broke up last month.
h. to be or cause to be overcome with laughter: The comedian told several jokes that broke up the audience.
54. break wind. See wind1 (def. 21).
55. break with,
a. to sever relations with; separate from: to break with one's family.
b. to depart from; repudiate: to break with tradition.
1. an act or instance of breaking; disruption or separation of parts; fracture; rupture: There was a break in the window.
2. an opening made by breaking; gap: The break in the wall had not been repaired.
3. a rush away from a place; an attempt to escape: a break for freedom.
4. a sudden dash or rush, as toward something: When the rain lessened, I made a break for home.
5. a suspension of or sudden rupture in friendly relations.
6. an interruption of continuity; departure from or rupture with: Abstract painters made a break with the traditions of the past.
7. an abrupt or marked change, as in sound or direction, or a brief pause: They noticed a curious break in his voice.
a. an opportunity or stroke of fortune, esp. a lucky one.
b. a chance to improve one's lot, esp. one unlooked for or undeserved.
9. the breaks, Informal.the way things happen; fate: Sorry to hear about your bad luck, but I guess those are the breaks.
10. a brief rest, as from work: The actors took a ten-minute break from rehearsal.
11. Radio, Television.a brief, scheduled interruption of a program or broadcasting period for the announcement of advertising or station identification.
12. Pros.a pause or caesura.
13. Jazz.a solo passage, usually of from 2 to 12 bars, during which the rest of the instruments are silent.
14. Music.the point in the scale where the quality of voice of one register changes to that of another, as from chest to head.
15. See break dancing.
16. a sharp and considerable drop in the prices of stock issues.
17. Elect.an opening or discontinuity in a circuit.
a. one or more blank lines between two paragraphs.
b. breaks.See suspension points.
19. the place, after a letter, where a word is or may be divided at the end of a line.
20. a collapse of health, strength, or spirit; breakdown.
21. Informal.an indiscreet or awkward remark or action; social blunder; faux pas.
22. Billiards, Pool.a series of successful strokes; run.
23. Pool.the opening play, in which the cue ball is shot to scatter the balls.
24. Sports.a change in direction of a pitched or bowled ball.
25. Horse Racing, Track.the start of a race.
26. (in harness racing) an act or instance of a horse's changing from a trot or pace into a gallop or other step.
27. Bowling.a failure to knock down all ten pins in a single frame.
28. Boxing.an act or instance of stepping back or separating from a clinch: a clean break.
29. any of several stages in the grinding of grain in which the bran is separated from the kernel.
30. Bot.a sport.
31. Journalism.the point at the bottom of a column where a printed story is carried over to another column or page.
32. Naut.the place at which a superstructure, deckhouse, or the like, rises from the main deck of a vessel.
33. breaks, Phys. Geog.an area dissected by small ravines and gullies.
34. Mining.a fault or offset, as in a vein or bed of ore.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.