(broke; broken; breaking)
Etymology: Middle English breken, from Old English brecan; akin to Old High German brehhan to break, Latin frangere
Date: before 12th century
a. to separate into parts with suddenness or violence
b. fracture <break an arm> c. rupture <break the skin> d. to cut into and turn over the surface of <break the soil> e. to render inoperable <broke his watch> 2. a. violate, transgress <break the law> <break a promise> b. to invalidate (a will) by action at law 3. a. archaic to force entry into b. to burst and force a way through <break the sound barrier> <break a racial barrier> c. to escape by force from <break jail> d. to make or effect by cutting, forcing, or pressing through <break a trail through the woods> 4. to disrupt the order or compactness of <break formation> 5. to make ineffective as a binding force <break the spell> 6. a. to defeat utterly and end as an effective force ; destroy <used starvation to break the enemy> b. to crush the spirit of <brutal methods broke the prisoner> c. to make tractable or submissive: as (1) past participle often broke to train (an animal) to adjust to the service or convenience of humans <a halter-broke horse> (2) inure, accustom d. to exhaust in health, strength, or capacity <broken by his struggle for power> 7. a. to stop or bring to an end suddenly ; halt <break a deadlock> b. interrupt, suspend <break the silence with a cry> c. to open and bring about suspension of operation <break an electric circuit> d. to destroy unity or completeness of <break a dining room set by buying a chair> e. to change the appearance of uniformity of <a dormer breaks the level roof> f. to split the surface of <fish breaking water> g. to cause to discontinue a habit <tried to break him of smoking> 8. a. to make known ; tell <break the bad news gently> b. to bring to attention or prominence initially <radio stations breaking new musicians> <break a news story> 9. a. to ruin financially <break the bank> b. to reduce in rank <broken from sergeant to private> 10. a. to split into smaller units, parts, or processes ; divide b. (1) to give or get the equivalent of (a bill) in smaller denominations (2) to use as the denomination in paying a bill <didn't want to break a $20 bill> — often used with into, up, or down 11. a. to check the speed, force, or intensity of <the bushes will break his fall> <without breaking her stride> b. to cause failure and discontinuance of (a strike) by measures outside bargaining processes 12. to cause a sudden significant decrease in the price, value, or volume of <news likely to break the market sharply> 13. a. exceed, surpass <break the record> b. to score less than (a specified total) <a golfer trying to break 90> c. to win against (an opponent's service) in tennis d. to make (a run) in football by getting past defenders <broke a 20-yard run> 14. to open the action of (a breechloader) 15. a. to find an explanation or solution for ; solve <the detective broke the case> b. to discover the essentials of (a code or cipher system) 16. to demonstrate the falsity of <break an alibi> 17. to ruin the prospects of <could make or break her career> 18. to produce visibly <barely breaks a sweat> intransitive verb 1. a. to escape with sudden forceful effort <the attacker broke from the throng> b. to come into being by or as if by bursting forth <day was breaking> c. to effect a penetration <break through security lines> d. to emerge through the surface of the water e. to start abruptly <when the storm broke> f. to become known or published <when the news broke> g. to make a sudden dash <break for cover> h. to separate after a clinch in boxing i. to achieve initial success in usually a sudden or striking way <her song broke nationally> j. to begin a race <the horse broke poorly> 2. a. to come apart or split into pieces ; fragment, shatter <the cup broke when it fell> b. to open spontaneously or by pressure from within <the blister broke> c. of a wave to curl over and fall apart in surf or foam 3. to interrupt one's activity or occupation for a brief period <break for lunch> 4. to alter sharply in tone, pitch, or intensity <a voice breaking with emotion> 5. to become fair ; clear <when the weather breaks> 6. to make the opening shot of a game of pool 7. to end a relationship, connection, or agreement — usually used with with or from 8. to give way in disorderly retreat 9. a. to swerve suddenly b. to curve from a straight path <a pitch that breaks away from the batter> <a putt that breaks left> 10. a. to fail in health, strength, vitality, resolve, or control <may break under questioning> b. to become inoperative because of damage, wear, or strain <the pump broke> 11. to fail to keep a prescribed gait — used of a horse 12. to undergo a sudden significant decrease in price, value, or volume <transportation stocks may break sharply> 13. happen, develop <for the team to succeed, everything has to break right> 14. to win against an opponent's service in tennis 15. a. to divide into classes, categories, or types — usually used with into <the rose is broken into several varieties> b. to fold, bend, lift, or come apart at a seam, groove, or joint c. of cream to separate during churning into liquid and fat II. noun Date: 14th century 1. a. an act or action of breaking b. the opening shot in a game of pool or billiards 2. a. a condition produced by or as if by breaking ; gap <a break in the clouds> b. a gap in an otherwise continuous electric circuit 3. the action or act of breaking in, out, or forth <at break of day> <a jail break> 4. a place or situation at which a break occurs: as a. the place at which a word is divided especially at the end of a line of print or writing b. the point or location at which waves break for surfing 5. an interruption in continuity <a break in the weather>: as a. a notable change of subject matter, attitude, or treatment b. (1) an abrupt, significant, or noteworthy change or interruption in a continuous process, trend, or surface (2) a respite from work, school, or duty <coffee break> <spring break> (3) relief from annoyance — often used to express exasperation or irritation in phrases like give me a break (4) a planned interruption in a radio or television program <a break for the commercial> c. deviation of a pitched baseball from a straight line d. mining fault, dislocation e. failure of a horse to maintain the prescribed gait f. an abrupt change in musical or vocal pitch or quality g. the action or an instance of breaking service in tennis h. a usually solo instrumental passage in jazz, folk, or popular music 6. a. dash, rush <a base runner making a break for home> b. fast break 7. a sudden and abrupt decline of prices or values 8. a. the start of a race b. the act of separating after a clinch in boxing 9. a. a stroke of luck and especially of good luck <a bad break> <got the breaks> b. a favorable or opportune situation ; chance <waiting for a big break in show business> c. favorable consideration or treatment <a tax break> <a break on the price> 10. a. a rupture in previously agreeable relations <a break between the two countries> b. an abrupt split or difference with something previously adhered to or followed <a sharp break with tradition> 11. breakdown 1c <suffered a mental break>
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.