• "They burnt the Shakespeare, breaking the spell."
    "They burnt the Shakespeare, breaking the spell."
  • WordNet 3.6
    • v break weaken or destroy in spirit or body "His resistance was broken","a man broken by the terrible experience of near-death"
    • v break diminish or discontinue abruptly "The patient's fever broke last night"
    • v break fracture a bone of "I broke my foot while playing hockey"
    • v break fall sharply "stock prices broke"
    • v break make submissive, obedient, or useful "The horse was tough to break","I broke in the new intern"
    • v break be broken in "If the new teacher won't break, we'll add some stress"
    • v break crack; of the male voice in puberty "his voice is breaking--he should no longer sing in the choir"
    • v break render inoperable or ineffective "You broke the alarm clock when you took it apart!"
    • v break become separated into pieces or fragments "The figurine broke","The freshly baked loaf fell apart"
    • v break destroy the integrity of; usually by force; cause to separate into pieces or fragments "He broke the glass plate","She broke the match"
    • v break become fractured; break or crack on the surface only "The glass cracked when it was heated"
    • v break happen "Report the news as it develops","These political movements recrudesce from time to time"
    • v break prevent completion "stop the project","break off the negotiations"
    • v break terminate "She interrupted her pregnancy","break a lucky streak","break the cycle of poverty"
    • v break lessen in force or effect "soften a shock","break a fall"
    • v break 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"
    • v break change suddenly from one tone quality or register to another "Her voice broke to a whisper when she started to talk about her children"
    • v break come into being "light broke over the horizon","Voices broke in the air"
    • v break find the solution or key to "break the code"
    • v break find a flaw in "break an alibi","break down a proof"
    • v break undergo breaking "The simple vowels broke in many Germanic languages"
    • v break interrupt the flow of current in "break a circuit"
    • v break cease an action temporarily "We pause for station identification","let's break for lunch"
    • v break 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","unwrap the evidence in the murder case"
    • v break be released or become known; of news "News of her death broke in the morning"
    • v break surpass in excellence "She bettered her own record","break a record"
    • v break pierce or penetrate "The blade broke her skin"
    • v break become punctured or penetrated "The skin broke"
    • v break break a piece from a whole "break a branch from a tree"
    • v break go to pieces "The lawn mower finally broke","The gears wore out","The old chair finally fell apart completely"
    • v break ruin completely "He busted my radio!"
    • v break separate from a clinch, in boxing "The referee broke the boxers"
    • v break make the opening shot that scatters the balls
    • v break destroy the completeness of a set of related items "The book dealer would not break the set"
    • v break exchange for smaller units of money "I had to break a $100 bill just to buy the candy"
    • v break force out or release suddenly and often violently something pent up "break into tears","erupt in anger"
    • v break do a break dance "Kids were break-dancing at the street corner"
    • v break curl over and fall apart in surf or foam, of waves "The surf broke"
    • v break 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"
    • v break emerge from the surface of a body of water "The whales broke"
    • v break scatter or part "The clouds broke after the heavy downpour"
    • v break make a rupture in the ranks of the enemy or one's own by quitting or fleeing "The ranks broke"
    • v break move away or escape suddenly "The horses broke from the stable","Three inmates broke jail","Nobody can break out--this prison is high security"
    • v break change directions suddenly
    • v break reduce to bankruptcy "My daughter's fancy wedding is going to break me!","The slump in the financial markets smashed him"
    • v break assign to a lower position; reduce in rank "She was demoted because she always speaks up","He was broken down to Sergeant"
    • v break 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"
    • v break invalidate by judicial action "The will was broken"
    • v break interrupt a continued activity "She had broken with the traditional patterns"
    • v break cause the failure or ruin of "His peccadilloes finally broke his marriage","This play will either make or break the playwright"
    • v break act in disregard of laws, rules, contracts, or promises "offend all laws of humanity","violate the basic laws or human civilization","break a law","break a promise"
    • v break enter someone's (virtual or real) 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!","who broke into my account last night?"
    • v break happen or take place "Things have been breaking pretty well for us in the past few months"
    • v break come forth or begin from a state of latency "The first winter storm broke over New York"
    • v break fail to agree with; be in violation of; as of rules or patterns "This sentence violates the rules of syntax"
    • v break give up "break cigarette smoking"
    • v break cause to give up a habit "She finally broke herself of smoking cigarettes"
    • v break vary or interrupt a uniformity or continuity "The flat plain was broken by tall mesas"
    • v break come to an end "The heat wave finally broke yesterday"
    • n break an escape from jail "the breakout was carefully planned"
    • n break any frame in which a bowler fails to make a strike or spare "the break in the eighth frame cost him the match"
    • n break a sudden dash "he made a break for the open door"
    • n break the act of breaking something "the breakage was unavoidable"
    • n break an act of delaying or interrupting the continuity "it was presented without commercial breaks","there was a gap in his account"
    • n break (tennis) a score consisting of winning a game when your opponent was serving "he was up two breaks in the second set"
    • n break the opening shot that scatters the balls in billiards or pool
    • n break a pause from doing something (as work) "we took a 10-minute break","he took time out to recuperate"
    • n break an abrupt change in the tone or register of the voice (as at puberty or due to emotion) "then there was a break in her voice"
    • n break a personal or social separation (as between opposing factions) "they hoped to avoid a break in relations"
    • n break an unexpected piece of good luck "he finally got his big break"
    • n break the occurrence of breaking "the break in the dam threatened the valley"
    • n break some abrupt occurrence that interrupts an ongoing activity "the telephone is an annoying interruption","there was a break in the action when a player was hurt"
    • n break (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","he studied the faulting of the earth's crust"
    • n break breaking of hard tissue such as bone "it was a nasty fracture","the break seems to have been caused by a fall"
    • n break a time interval during which there is a temporary cessation of something
    • ***

Additional illustrations & photos:

A dog breaks a hole through ice to get a drink A dog breaks a hole through ice to get a drink
A little boy sails boats in a pail of water, beside a woman who has taken a break from her spinning A little boy sails boats in a pail of water, beside a woman who has taken a break from her spinning
He Would Break Me up Into Bones, and Throw Me Into a Pile 246 He Would Break Me up Into Bones, and Throw Me Into a Pile 246
Breaking it Gently Breaking it Gently
Blazing the trail by bending down and breaking branches Blazing the trail by bending down and breaking branches
Breaking a Death-Clutch from Behind Breaking a Death-Clutch from Behind
Breaking a Death-Clutch from the Front Breaking a Death-Clutch from the Front

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: Despite the break up of the USSR, Russia is still the largest country in the world. It’s almost twice the size of Canada, which ranks second.
    • Break A device for checking motion, or for measuring friction. See Brake n. 9 & 10.
    • Break A large four-wheeled carriage, having a straight body and calash top, with the driver's seat in front and the footman's behind.
    • Break A projection or recess from the face of a building.
    • Break An interruption in continuity in writing or printing, as where there is an omission, an unfilled line, etc. "All modern trash is
      Set forth with numerous breaks and dashes."
    • Break An interruption of continuity; change of direction; as, a break in a wall; a break in the deck of a ship.
    • Break An interruption; a pause; as, a break in friendship; a break in the conversation.
    • Break An opening made by fracture or disruption.
    • Break An opening or displacement in the circuit, interrupting the electrical current.
    • Break (Teleg) See Commutator.
    • Break The first appearing, as of light in the morning; the dawn; as, the break of day; the break of dawn.
    • Break To be crushed, or overwhelmed with sorrow or grief; as, my heart is breaking .
    • Break To become weakened in constitution or faculties; to lose health or strength. "See how the dean begins to break ;
      Poor gentleman! he droops apace."
    • Break To burst forth violently, as a storm. "The clouds are still above; and, while I speak,
      A second deluge o'er our head may break ."
    • Break To burst forth; to make its way; to come to view; to appear; to dawn. "The day begins to break , and night is fled.""And from the turf a fountain broke ,
      and gurgled at our feet."
    • Break To come apart or divide into two or more pieces, usually with suddenness and violence; to part; to burst asunder.
    • Break To destroy the arrangement of; to throw into disorder; to pierce; as, the cavalry were not able to break the British squares.
    • Break To destroy the completeness of; to remove a part from; as, to break a set.
    • Break 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 ."
    • Break To destroy the official character and standing of; to cashier; to dismiss. "I see a great officer broken ."
    • Break To destroy the strength, firmness, or consistency of; as, to break flax.
    • Break 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."
    • Break To exchange for other money or currency of smaller denomination; as, to break a five dollar bill.
    • Break To fail in musical quality; as, a singer's voice breaks when it is strained beyond its compass and a tone or note is not completed, but degenerates into an unmusical sound instead. Also, to change in tone, as a boy's voice at puberty.
    • Break To fall in business; to become bankrupt. "He that puts all upon adventures doth oftentimes break , and come to poverty."
    • Break To fall out; to terminate friendship. "To break upon the score of danger or expense is to be mean and narrow-spirited.""Fear me not, man; I will not break away ."
    • Break 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.
    • Break 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."
    • Break 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."
    • Break To lay open as by breaking; to divide; as, to break a package of goods.
    • Break To lay open, as a purpose; to disclose, divulge, or communicate. "Katharine, break thy mind to me."
    • Break To make an abrupt or sudden change; to change the gait; as, to break into a run or gallop.
    • Break To open spontaneously, or by pressure from within, as a bubble, a tumor, a seed vessel, a bag. "Else the bottle break , and the wine runneth out."
    • Break To open up; to be scattered; to be dissipated; as, the clouds are breaking . "At length the darkness begins to break ."
    • Break 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."
    • Break 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.
    • Break 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?"
    • Break To weaken or impair, as health, spirit, or mind. "An old man, broken with the storms of state."
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: Hippopotamuses break wind through their mouths.
    • v.t Break brāk to part by force: to shatter: to crush: to tame, or wear out: to violate, or outrage, as a law, a bargain, &c.: to check by intercepting, as a fall: to interrupt, as silence, or the monotony of anything, or in 'to break one off a habit:' to make bankrupt: to degrade from rank, as an officer
    • v.i Break to part in two: to burst forth: to open or appear, as the morning: to become bankrupt: to crack or give way, as the voice: to dissolve, as frost: to collapse in foam, as a wave: to fall out, as with a friend:—pa.t. brōke; pa.p. brōk′en
    • n Break the state of being broken: an opening: a pause or interruption:
    • n Break brāk a large wagonette: a carriage frame, all wheels and no body, used in breaking in horses.
    • n Break (billiards) a consecutive series of successful strokes, also the number of points attained by such: the dawn
    • ***


  • Lena Horne
    Lena Horne
    “It's not the load that breaks you down, it's the way you carry it.”
  • Raymond Williams
    Raymond Williams
    “What breaks capitalism, all that will ever break capitalism, is capitalists. The faster they run the more strain on their heart.”
  • Earl Campbell
    Earl Campbell
    “Somebody will always break your records. It is how you live that counts.”
  • Edward De Bono
    Edward De Bono
    “Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.”
  • Mary Lou Cook
    Mary Lou Cook
    “Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.”
  • William Shakespeare
    “I have full cause of weeping, but this heart shall break into a hundred thousand flaws or ere I'll weep.”


Break a leg - This idiom is a way of wishing someone good luck.
Break even - If you break even, you don't make any money, but you don't lose any either.
Break ground - If you break ground, or break new ground, you make progress, taking things into a new area or going further than anyone has gone before.'Ground-breaking' is used an adjective.
Break the back of the beast - If you break the back of the beast, you accomplish a challenge.
Break the ice - When you break the ice, you get over any initial embarrassment or shyness when you meet someone for the first time and start conversing.
Break your duck - (UK) If you break your duck, you do something for the first time.
Break your heart - If someone upsets you greatly, they break your heart, especially if they end a relationship.
Clean break - If you make a clean break, you break away completely from something.
Make or break - A make or break decision, stage, etc, is a crucial one that will determine the success or failure of the whole venture.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me - To be resistant to criticism. This is often said to young children upset over the fact that another child called them something that they did not like.
You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs - This idiom means that in order to achieve something or make progress, there are often losers in the process.


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
OE. breken, AS. brecan,; akin to OS. brekan, D. breken, OHG. brehhan, G. brechen, Icel. braka, to creak, Sw. braka, bräkka, to crack, Dan. brække, to break, Goth. brikan, to break, L. frangere,. Cf. Bray to pound, Breach Fragile


In literature:

But it breaks my heart when you don't trust me.
"Blow The Man Down" by Holman Day
Nora would break her heart.
"Lucy Maud Montgomery Short Stories, 1909 to 1922" by Lucy Maud Montgomery
For all his gentle, ethereal look, you could neither bend nor break him.
"Robert Elsmere" by Mrs. Humphry Ward
Three years back, he had been in trouble for breaking and entering.
"The Planet Strappers" by Raymond Zinke Gallun
She declared he should not go; said it would break her heart if he did; entreated and threatened, but all in vain.
"Children's Literature" by Charles Madison Curry
If you break down some barriers, you might just end up breaking them all.
"The Defiant Agents" by Andre Alice Norton
They went through to the orchard, where the trees were breaking into eager blossoms.
"The Manxman A Novel - 1895" by Hall Caine
The tree was a small one, and it shook so, that I began to fear it might break down.
"Popular Adventure Tales" by Mayne Reid
He had wanted to break through his reticence due to his sense of impending family disaster.
"The Kingdom Round the Corner" by Coningsby Dawson
And if the deal's going to be crooked I'll break up the game any way that comes handy.
"Desert Conquest" by A. M. Chisholm

In poetry:

The keel of the moon
breaks through purple clouds
and their quivers
fill with dew.
"Before The Dawn " by Federico Garcia Lorca
The violent one
Whose raging demands
Break down peace and shelter
Like a peacock's scream.
"(From) The Invocation to Kali " by May Sarton
Glowing through the gray rack
Breaks the Day —
Like a burning haystack
Twenty farms away!
"Break Of Day" by John Gneisenau Neihardt
I jump up like mad,
Break the old pipe in twain,
And away to the meadows,
The meadows again!
"Old Song" by Edward FitzGerald
I jump up, like mad,
Break the old pipe in twain,
And away to the meadows,
The meadows again!
"The Meadows In Spring" by Edward FitzGerald
Yellow foam of breaking waves
On a jade-green sea;
Brown junks and brown sails
Windward and lee.
"The Fishing Fleet" by Lincoln Colcord

In news:

Some tea bagger ruined this woman's coffee break.
Gonzalez breaks the tie with a first inning homerun and Dodgers continue the lead to win 8-2.
Breaking Through the Myths to Find the Right Solution for Your Company.
Breaking news, business and technology, local and national sports coverage, entertainment news and reviews.
Shea Lopez breaks down the top 13 World Tour surfers more.
If you're looking for the world's best break dancers you won't find them in New York, even though break dancing – also known as B-boying – still brings to mind images of kids spinning on cardboard on Bronx sidewalks.
Break-even analysis helps you determine the amount of sales needed to break even .
Purdue gets break with its break.
Now they are telling me I got to worry about deer breaking into the break room.
Breaking Away Before You Break Down.
The base of the glider rocker can crack or break, posing a fall hazard CPSC and the firm have received 26 reports of the Avalon glider rockers breaking.
But condoms do indeed sometimes tear or break, and now a study has uncovered a reason why -- "blunt puncture," the name given to stretching the condom until it breaks due to rigorous thrusting.
Do Little, Take a Break Our collective play date in Washington has taken a break.
The Breaking News to End All Breaking News.
The Rockets want to fast break at every opportunity and averaged 22.5 fast-break points in the first two games of the road trip.

In science:

The point where the height of these barriers scales with the system size marks a breaking of the ergodicity of the dynamics, a break-up of the phase-space into a large number (scaling exponentially with the system size) of disconnected clusters, and a saturation of the compaction curve.
On random graphs and the statistical mechanics of granular matter
Therefore, the unabsorbed CR energy spectrum fε (ε) due to the injected electrons has a broken power-law shape, with a highenergy limit set by γ0 and the break at some energy εbreak .
Neutron Stars as Sources of High Energy Particles - the case of RPP
Note, that the photon energy εbreak at which the spectral break occurs does not depend on any pulsar parameters.
Neutron Stars as Sources of High Energy Particles - the case of RPP
The low-energy CR spectral break εbreak is prominent at ∼ 40 MeV.
Neutron Stars as Sources of High Energy Particles - the case of RPP
In ref. [7–13] the model was analyzed with replica variational approximations, which predict ergodicity breaking at low temperature, giving one-step replica symmetry breaking (1RSB) for d > 2 and continuous replica symmetry breaking for d < 2.
Random Heteropolymer Dynamics