Break v. t. [imp. broke (Obs. Brake); p. p. Broken (Obs. Broke); p. pr. & vb. n. Breaking.]
1. To strain apart; to sever by fracture; to divide with violence; as, to break a rope or chain; to break a seal; to break an axle; to break rocks or coal; to break a lock.
2. To lay open as by breaking; to divide; as, to break a package of goods.
3. To lay open, as a purpose; to disclose, divulge, or communicate.
Katharine, break thy mind to me. --Shak.
4. To infringe or violate, as an obligation, law, or promise.
Out, out, hyena! these are thy wonted arts . . .
To break all faith, all vows, deceive, betray. --Milton
5. To interrupt; to destroy the continuity of; to dissolve or terminate; as, to break silence; to break one's sleep; to break one's journey.
Go, release them, Ariel;
My charms I'll break, their senses I'll restore. --Shak.
6. To destroy the completeness of; to remove a part from; as, to break a set.
7. To destroy the arrangement of; to throw into disorder; to pierce; as, the cavalry were not able to break the British squares.
8. To shatter to pieces; to reduce to fragments.
The victim broke in pieces the musical instruments with which he had solaced the hours of captivity. --Prescott.
9. To exchange for other money or currency of smaller denomination; as, to break a five dollar bill.
10. To destroy the strength, firmness, or consistency of; as, to break flax.
11. To weaken or impair, as health, spirit, or mind.
An old man, broken with the storms of state. --Shak.
12. To diminish the force of; to lessen the shock of, as a fall or blow.
I'll rather leap down first, and break your fall. --Dryden.
13. To impart, as news or information; to broach; -- with to, and often with a modified word implying some reserve; as, to break the news gently to the widow; to break a purpose cautiously to a friend.
14. To tame; to reduce to subjection; to make tractable; to discipline; as, to break a horse to the harness or saddle. “To break a colt.”
Why, then thou canst not break her to the lute? --Shak.
15. To destroy the financial credit of; to make bankrupt; to ruin.
With arts like these rich Matho, when he speaks,
Attracts all fees, and little lawyers breaks. --Dryden.
16. To destroy the official character and standing of; to cashier; to dismiss.
I see a great officer broken. --Swift.
Note: With prepositions or adverbs: --
To break down. (a) To crush; to overwhelm; as, to break down one's strength; to break down opposition. (b) To remove, or open a way through, by breaking; as, to break down a door or wall.
To break in. (a) To force in; as, to break in a door. (b) To train; to discipline; as, a horse well broken in.
To break of, to rid of; to cause to abandon; as, to break one of a habit.
To break off. (a) To separate by breaking; as, to break off a twig. (b) To stop suddenly; to abandon. “Break off thy sins by righteousness.” --Dan. iv. 27.
To break open, to open by breaking. “Open the door, or I will break it open.” --Shak.
To break out, to take or force out by breaking; as, to break out a pane of glass.
To break out a cargo, to unstow a cargo, so as to unload it easily.
To break through. (a) To make an opening through, as, as by violence or the force of gravity; to pass violently through; as, to break through the enemy's lines; to break through the ice. (b) To disregard; as, to break through the ceremony.
To break up. (a) To separate into parts; to plow (new or fallow ground). “Break up this capon.” --Shak. “Break up your fallow ground.” --Jer. iv. 3. (b) To dissolve; to put an end to. “Break up the court.” --Shak.
To break (one) all up, to unsettle or disconcert completely; to upset. [Colloq.]
Note: With an immediate object: --
To break the back. (a) To dislocate the backbone; hence, to disable totally. (b) To get through the worst part of; as, to break the back of a difficult undertaking.
To break bulk, to destroy the entirety of a load by removing a portion of it; to begin to unload; also, to transfer in detail, as from boats to cars.
To break a code to discover a method to convert coded messages into the original understandable text.
To break cover, to burst forth from a protecting concealment, as game when hunted.
To break a deer or To break a stag, to cut it up and apportion the parts among those entitled to a share.
To break fast, to partake of food after abstinence. See Breakfast.
To break ground. (a) To open the earth as for planting; to commence excavation, as for building, siege operations, and the like; as, to break ground for a foundation, a canal, or a railroad. (b) Fig.: To begin to execute any plan. (c) Naut. To release the anchor from the bottom.
To break the heart, to crush or overwhelm (one) with grief.
To break a house Law, to remove or set aside with violence and a felonious intent any part of a house or of the fastenings provided to secure it.
To break the ice, to get through first difficulties; to overcome obstacles and make a beginning; to introduce a subject.
To break jail, to escape from confinement in jail, usually by forcible means.
To break a jest, to utter a jest. “Patroclus . . . the livelong day breaks scurril jests.” --Shak.
To break joints, to lay or arrange bricks, shingles, etc., so that the joints in one course shall not coincide with those in the preceding course.
To break a lance, to engage in a tilt or contest.
To break the neck, to dislocate the joints of the neck.
To break no squares, to create no trouble. [Obs.]
To break a path, road, etc., to open a way through obstacles by force or labor.
To break upon a wheel, to execute or torture, as a criminal by stretching him upon a wheel, and breaking his limbs with an iron bar; -- a mode of punishment formerly employed in some countries.
To break wind, to give vent to wind from the anus.
Syn: -- To dispart; rend; tear; shatter; batter; violate; infringe; demolish; destroy; burst; dislocate.
1. Separated into parts or pieces by violence; divided into fragments; as, a broken chain or rope; a broken dish.
2. Disconnected; not continuous; also, rough; uneven; as, a broken surface.
3. Fractured; cracked; disunited; sundered; strained; apart; as, a broken reed; broken friendship.
4. Made infirm or weak, by disease, age, or hardships.
The one being who remembered him as he been before his mind was broken. --G. Eliot.
The broken soldier, kindly bade to stay,
Sat by his fire, and talked the night away. --Goldsmith.
5. Subdued; humbled; contrite.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. --Ps. li. 17.
6. Subjugated; trained for use, as a horse.
7. Crushed and ruined as by something that destroys hope; blighted. “Her broken love and life.”
8. Not carried into effect; not adhered to; violated; as, a broken promise, vow, or contract; a broken law.
9. Ruined financially; incapable of redeeming promises made, or of paying debts incurred; as, a broken bank; a broken tradesman.
10. Imperfectly spoken, as by a foreigner; as, broken English; imperfectly spoken on account of emotion; as, to say a few broken words at parting.
Amidst the broken words and loud weeping of those grave senators. --Macaulay.
Broken ground. (a) Mil. Rough or uneven ground; as, the troops were retarded in their advance by broken ground. (b) Ground recently opened with the plow.
Broken line Geom., the straight lines which join a number of given points taken in some specified order.
Broken meat, fragments of meat or other food.
Broken number, a fraction.
Broken weather, unsettled weather.
adj 1: physically and forcibly separated into pieces or cracked or
split; or legally or emotionally destroyed; "a broken
mirror"; "a broken tooth"; "a broken leg"; "his neck
is broken"; "children from broken homes"; "a broken
marriage"; "a broken heart" [ant: unbroken]
2: not continuous in space, time, or sequence or varying
abruptly; "broken lines of defense"; "a broken cable
transmission"; "broken sleep"; "tear off the stub above
the broken line"; "a broken note"; "broken sobs" [ant: unbroken]
3: subdued or brought low in condition or status; "brought
low"; "a broken man"; "his broken spirit" [syn: crushed,
humbled, humiliated, low]
4: (especially of promises or contracts) having been violated
or disregarded; "broken (or unkept) promises"; "broken
contracts" [syn: unkept] [ant: unbroken]
5: tamed or trained to obey; "a horse broken to the saddle";
"this old nag is well broken in" [syn: broken in]
6: topographically very uneven; "broken terrain"; "rugged
ground" [syn: rugged]
7: imperfectly spoken or written; "broken English"
8: thrown into a state of disarray or confusion; "troops
fleeing in broken ranks"; "a confused mass of papers on
the desk"; "the small disordered room"; "with everything
so upset" [syn: confused, disordered, upset]
9: weakened and infirm; "broken health resulting from
10: destroyed financially; "the broken fortunes of the family"
[syn: wiped out(p), impoverished]
11: out of working order (`busted' is an informal substitute for
`broken'); "a broken washing machine"; "the coke machine
is broken"; "the coke machine is busted" [syn: busted]
12: discontinuous; "broken clouds"; "broken sunshine"
13: lacking a part or parts; "a broken set of encyclopedia"
n 1: some abrupt occurrence that interrupts; "the telephone is an
annoying interruption"; "there was a break in the action
when a player was hurt" [syn: interruption]
2: an unexpected piece of good luck; "he finally got his big
break" [syn: good luck, happy chance]
3: (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" [syn: fault, geological
fault, shift, fracture]
4: a personal or social separation (as between opposing
factions); "they hoped to avoid a break in relations"
[syn: rupture, breach, severance, rift, falling
5: a pause from doing something (as work); "we took a 10-minute
break"; "he took time out to recuperate" [syn: respite,
recess, time out]
6: the act of breaking something; "the breakage was
unavoidable" [syn: breakage, breaking]
7: a time interval during which there is a temporary cessation
of something [syn: pause, intermission, interruption,
8: breaking of hard tissue such as bone; "it was a nasty
fracture"; "the break seems to have been caused by a fall"
9: the occurrence of breaking; "the break in the dam threatened
10: the opening shot that scatters the balls in billiards or
11: (tennis) a score consisting of winning a game when your
opponent was serving; "he was up two breaks in the second
set" [syn: break of serve]
12: an act of delaying or interrupting the continuity; "it was
presented without commercial breaks" [syn: interruption,
13: a sudden dash; "he made a break for the open door"
14: any frame in which a bowler fails to make a strike or spare;
"the break in the eighth frame cost him the match" [syn:
15: an escape from jail; "the breakout was carefully planned"
[syn: breakout, jailbreak, gaolbreak, prisonbreak,
v 1: terminate; "She interrupted her pregnancy"; "break a lucky
streak"; "break the cycle of poverty" [syn: interrupt]
2: become separated into pieces or fragments; "The figurine
broke"; "The freshly baked loaf fell apart" [syn: separate,
split up, fall apart, come apart]
3: destroy the integrity of; usually by force; cause to
separate into pieces or fragments; "He broke the glass
plate"; "She broke the match"
4: render inoperable or ineffective; "You broke the alarm clock
when you took it apart!"
5: ruin completely; "He busted my radio!" [syn: bust] [ant: repair]
6: act in disregard of laws and rules; "offend all laws of
humanity"; "violate the basic laws or human civilization";
"break a law" [syn: transgress, offend, infract, violate,
go against, breach]
7: move away or escape suddenly; "The horses broke from the
stable"; "Three inmates broke jail"; "Nobody can break
out--this prison is high security" [syn: break out, break
8: scatter or part; "The clouds broke after the heavy downpour"
9: force out or release suddenly and often violently something
pent up; "break into tears"; "erupt in anger" [syn: burst,
10: prevent completion; "stop the project"; "break off the
negociations" [syn: break off, discontinue, stop]
11: enter someone's property in an unauthorized manner, usually
with the intent to steal or commit a violent act;
"Someone broke in while I was on vacation"; "They broke
into my car and stole my radio!" [syn: break in]
12: make submissive, obedient, or useful; "The horse was tough
to break"; "I broke in the new intern" [syn: break in]
13: fail to agree with; be in violation of; as of rules or
patterns; "This sentence violates the rules of syntax"
[syn: violate, go against] [ant: conform to]
14: surpass in excellence; "She bettered her own record"; "break
a record" [syn: better]
15: 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" [syn: disclose, let on, bring out,
reveal, discover, expose, divulge, impart, give
away, let out]
16: come into being; "light broke over the horizon"; "Voices
broke in the air"
17: 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" [syn: fail, go bad, give
way, die, give out, conk out, go, break down]
18: interrupt a continued activity; "She had broken with the
traditional patterns" [syn: break away]
19: make a rupture in the ranks of the enemy or one's own by
quitting or fleeing; "The ranks broke"
20: curl over and fall apart in surf or foam, of waves; "The
21: lessen in force or effect; "soften a shock"; "break a fall"
[syn: dampen, damp, soften, weaken]
22: be broken in; "If the new teacher won't break, we'll add
23: come to an end; "The heat wave finally broke yesterday"
24: vary or interrupt a uniformity or continuity; "The flat
plain was broken by tall mesas"
25: cause to give up a habit; "She finally broke herself of
26: give up; "break cigarette smoking"
27: come forth or begin from a state of latency; "The first
winter storm broke over New York"
28: happen or take place; "Things have been breaking pretty well
for us in the past few months"
29: cause the failure or ruin of; "His peccadilloes finally
broke his marriage"; "This play will either make or break
the playwright" [ant: make]
30: invalidate by judicial action; "The will was broken"
31: discontinue an association or relation; go different ways;
"The business partners broke over a tax question"; "The
couple separated after 25 years of marriage"; "My friend
and I split up" [syn: separate, part, split up, split,
32: assign to a lower position; reduce in rank; "She was demoted
because she always speaks up"; "He was broken down to
Sargeant" [syn: demote, bump, relegate, kick
downstairs] [ant: promote]
33: reduce to bankruptcy; "My daughter's fancy wedding is going
to break me!"; "The slump in the financial markets
smashed him" [syn: bankrupt, ruin, smash]
34: change directions suddenly
35: emerge from the surface of a body of water; "The whales
36: break down, literally or metaphorically; "The wall
collapsed"; "The business collapsed"; "The dam broke";
"The roof collapsed"; "The wall gave in"; "The roof
finally gave under the weight of the ice" [syn: collapse,
fall in, cave in, give, give way, founder]
37: do a break dance; "Kids were break-dancing at the street
corner" [syn: break dance, break-dance]
38: exchange for smaller units of money; "I had to break a $100
bill just to buy the candy"
39: destroy the completeness of a set of related items; "The
book dealer would not break the set" [syn: break up]
40: make the opening shot that scatters the balls
41: separate from a clinch, in boxing; "The referee broke the
42: go to pieces; "The lawn mower finally broke"; "The gears
wore out"; "The old chair finally fell apart completely"
[syn: wear, wear out, bust, fall apart]
43: break a piece from a whole; "break a branch from a tree"
[syn: break off, snap off]
44: become punctured or penetrated; "The skin broke"
45: pierce or penetrate; "The blade broke her skin"
46: be released or become known; of news; "News of her death
broke in the morning" [syn: get out, get around]
47: cease an action temporarily; "We pause for station
identification"; "let's break for lunch" [syn: pause, intermit]
48: interrupt the flow of current in; "break a circuit"
49: undergo breaking; "The simple vowels broke in many Germanic
50: find a flaw in; "break an alibi"; "break down a proof"
51: find the solution or key to; "break the code"
52: change suddenly from one tone quality or register to
another; "Her voice broke to a whisper when she started
to talk about her children"
53: happen; "Report the news as it develops"; "These political
movements recrudesce from time to time" [syn: recrudesce,
54: become fractured; break or crack on the surface only; "The
glass cracked when it was heated" [syn: crack, check]
55: of the male voice in puberty; "his voice is breaking--he
should no longer sing in the choir"
56: fall sharply; "stock prices broke"
57: fracture a bone of; "I broke my foot while playing hockey"
58: diminish or discontinue abruptly; "The patient's fever broke
59: weaken or destroy in spirit or body; "His resistance was
broken"; "a man broken by the terrible experience of
[also: broken, broke]