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To break is the act of damaging something.

Break may also refer to:

See also


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Wikipedia has an article on:




Most common English words: authority « pleasant « forget « #862: break » Roman » wise » watch


Old English brecan. Compare Dutch breken, German brechen, and Gothic 𐌱𐍂𐌹𐌺𐌰𐌽 (brikan). Cognate with Latin frangere (to break).



to break

Third person singular

Simple past

Past participle

Present participle

to break (third-person singular simple present breaks, present participle breaking, simple past broke, past participle broken)

  1. (intransitive) 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. (intransitive, transitive, medicine) 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. (transitive, medicine, ergative) Of a bone, to cause to crack under physical strain.
    Don't try to break his neck.
  4. (transitive, medicine, ergative) Of a bone, to fracture accidentally.
    Don't break your fingers playing basketball.
  5. (intransitive) To stop functioning properly or altogether.
    On the hottest day of the year the fridge broke.
  6. (intransitive) To interrupt or cease one's work or occupation temporarily.
    Let's break for lunch.
  7. (intransitive, tennis) To win a game as receiver.
    He needs to break serve to win the match.
  8. (intransitive, billiards, snooker, pool) To make the first shot.
    Is it your or my turn to break?
  9. (transitive) To cause to end up in two or more pieces.
    I am going to break your mask.
  10. (transitive, ergative) To cause to malfunction or stop working altogether.
    Did you two break the trolley by racing with it?
  11. (transitive) To cause a person or animal to lose his/her/its will, usually obtained by means of torture.
    A wave breaking (definition 13)
    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. (transitive) 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. (intransitive, of a water wave) To collapse into surf, after arriving in shallow water.
  14. (transitive, gaming slang) 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. (transitive, media, ergative) to disclose or make known an item of news etc
  16. (intransitive, of a storm or spell of weather) to end
    The forecast says the hot weather will break by midweek
  17. (transitive) To ruin financially.
    Local economic problems broke some smaller banks.
  18. (transitive, US) 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. (intransitive, of dawn or morning) 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.



Derived terms

See also


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.




break (plural breaks)

  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. (by ellipsis) A lucky break.
  5. (tennis) A game won by the receiving player or players (when playing doubles).
  6. (billiards, snooker, pool) The first shot in a game of billiards
  7. (snooker) The number of points scored by one player in one visit to the table
  8. (surfing) Place where waves break (ie. pitch or spill forward creating white water).
    The final break in the Greenmount area is Kirra Point.
  9. (music) 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.
  10. (British, weather) a change; the end of a spell of persistent good or bad weather

Usage notes

  • (music): 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.


  • (instance of breaking something into two pieces): split
  • (physical space that opens up in something or between two things): breach, gap, space
  • (rest or pause, usually from work): time out

Derived terms





  • IPA: /bʁɛk/

Etymology 1

From English break.


break m. (plural breaks)

  1. break (pause, holiday)
    C’est l’heure de faire un break.

Etymology 2

English shooting brake


break m. and f. (plural breaks)

  1. estate car, station wagon





break m. inv.

  1. break (intermission or brief suspension of activity)



  1. break! (boxing)

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