1 /breIk/ verb past tense broke, past participle broken
a) (T) to make something separate into two or more pieces, for example by hitting it, dropping it, or bending it: The thieves got in by breaking a window. | break sth in two/in half/into pieces etc: He broke the roll in two and handed a piece to me.
b) (I) to separate into two or more pieces: The frames are made of plastic and they tend to break easily.
2 PART OF YOUR BODY (T) to damage part of your body, especially a bone, and make it split into two or more pieces: She fell downstairs and broke her hip.
a) (T) to damage something such as a machine so that it cannot work or be used: Someone's broken my camera - I can't get it to focus properly. | There's no point in buying him expensive toys, he'll only break them.
b) (I) if something such as a part of a machine breaks, it stops working: I think the spring's broken.
4 SURFACE/SKIN (I, T) if the surface of something breaks or if you break it, it splits or gets a hole in it: The seal on the jar did not seem to have been broken.
5 RULE/LAW ETC (T) to disobey a rule, law etc: Anyone who rides a motorbike without a helmet is breaking the law.
6 PROMISE/AGREEMENT break a promise/break an agreement/break your word to not do what you have promised to do or signed an agreement to do: I felt I had to take her to the film - I didn't want to break my promise.
7 break free/break loose to escape from someone or somewhere by using force: I managed to break free by elbowing him in the stomach.
8 break loose if violent feelings or a violent situation breaks loose, they suddenly start to happen: all hell broke loose (=people started behaving in a wild, uncontrolled way): The moment the shot rang out all hell broke loose.
9 break even to neither make a profit nor lose money: Things have been so bad we'll be lucky if we break even.
10 break a habit to stop wanting to keep doing something, especially something that you should not do: Smoking is a difficult habit to break.
11 why break the habit of a lifetime? humorous spoken used when telling someone that you expect that they will behave in the same way that they have always done, and make the same mistakes: "I'd better hurry up or I'll be late." "Why break the habit of a lifetime?"
12 break sb's heart to make someone very unhappy by ending a relationship with them or by doing something that they do not want you to do: He's really good looking - I expect he broke all the girls' hearts when he was at school. | It'll break your father's heart if you tell him you're giving up college.
13 you're breaking my heart/it's breaking my heart humorous spoken used when saying jokingly that you are very sad about something, even though you are not
14 break your neck spoken to hurt yourself very badly, especially by falling onto the ground: The path was really icy and I was lucky I didn't break my neck.
15 I'll break his/her neck spoken used when threatening to hurt someone because you are very angry about what they have done: If I get hold of the guy who hit my car I'll break his neck.
16 break the back of to finish the main or worst part of something: The engineers are confident they have broken the back of the problem.
17 break your back spoken to work very hard to try and do something: We've been breaking our backs trying to get the work done on time.
18 break sb's fall to stop someone from falling straight onto the ground, so that they are not badly hurt: Luckily some trees at the bottom of the cliff broke his fall.
19 break a record to do something even faster or even better than the previous best time, amount etc: Christie has broken his own European record in the 100 meters. | break all records (=to be much better or much more successful than anything before): This year's sales performance is expected to break all records.
20 break for lunch/coffee/dinner etc to stop for a short time in order to have lunch, a drink etc: At 12.30 we'll break for lunch, and start again at 2 o'clock.
21 break sb's concentration/flow/train of thought to interrupt someone and stop them from being able to continue thinking or talking about something: I never listen to music when I'm working - it breaks my concentration.
22 END A SITUATION (T) to stop an unpleasant situation from continuing: break the monotony: We took turns driving, in order to try and break the monotony. | break the deadlock/stalemate (=end a situation in which an agreement or a solution cannot be found): a way of ending the deadlock in Bosnia
23 break a strike to force workers to end a strike 2 (1): threats to use the army to break the 10 month old strike
24 break the silence/calm to end a period of silence or calm by talking or making a noise: The silence was broken by a burst of machine-gun fire.
25 break your silence to start talking about something in public after refusing to do so for a long time: She has finally broken her silence about the divorce.
26 break your links/ties/connection etc to end your connection or relationship with a person, group, organization etc: The US broke all diplomatic links with North Korea for a 3 month period..
27 break sb to completely destroy someone's chances of success or make them feel that they cannot continue: the scandal that finally broke him
28 break sb's spirit/resolve to make someone stop trying to achieve something, or start doing what you want: They could not break her spirit.
29 break ranks to behave differently from the other members of a group, who are expecting you to support them: No one in the party was prepared to break ranks and vote against their leader.
30 break the ice
a) to make people who have just met each other less nervous and more willing to talk, for example at a party or meeting: Sharon tried to break the ice by suggesting that we all play a game.
b) to do something that shows you want to end an argument, quarrel etc: Yeltsin offered a ceasefire to the rebels in an attempt to break the ice.
31 it won't break the bank used to say that you can afford to buy something: It's time we had a holiday, and it won't break the bank.
32 break the bank to win more money in a game of cards than a casino or a dealer (3) is able to pay you
33 break fresh/new ground to do something completely new that no one has ever done before, or find out new information about a subject: Researchers claim they are breaking new ground and are getting closer to discovering the causes of the disease.
34 break cover to move out of a place where you have been hiding so that you can be seen: One of the rhinos broke cover and charged straight at them.
35 break camp to pack tents and other equipment and leave the place where you have been camping
36 DAY/DAWN (I) if the day or the dawn breaks, light starts to shine in the sky: We arrived at Narita just as the dawn was breaking.
37 STORM (I) if a storm or the monsoon breaks, it suddenly begins: Bonington's team were nearing the summit when the monsoon broke.
38 WEATHER (I) if the weather breaks, it suddenly changes
39 WAVE (I) if a wave breaks, the top part starts to fall down, usually because it is hitting or getting near the shore: waves breaking against the foot of the cliffs
40 VOICE (I) if a boy's voice breaks, it becomes lower and starts to sound like a man's voice: I was in the school choir until my voice broke.
41 NEWS (I) if news about an important event breaks, it finally becomes known: The Watergate scandal was about to break.
42 CODE (T) to succeed in understanding what the letters or numbers in a secret code 1 (4) mean: Polish scientists broke the Enigma code shortly before World War II.
43 break wind to allow gas to escape from your bowels, making a noise and an unpleasant smell; fart 1 (1)
44 break (sb's) serve to win a game in tennis when your opponent is serving (serve1 (10): Courier broke Sampras' serve in the first game of the third set.
45 break! used when telling boxers or wrestlers to stop fighting
46 break a leg! humorous spoken used to wish someone good luck

Longman dictionary of contemporary English. 2004.

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  • Break — (br[=a]k), v. t. [imp. {broke} (br[=o]k), (Obs. {Brake}); p. p. {Broken} (br[=o] k n), (Obs. {Broke}); p. pr. & vb. n. {Breaking}.] [OE. breken, AS. brecan; akin to OS. brekan, D. breken, OHG. brehhan, G. brechen, Icel. braka to creak, Sw. braka …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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