break


break
break vb Break, crack, burst, bust, snap, shatter, shiver are comparable as general terms meaning fundamentally to come apart or cause to come apart.
Break basically implies the operation of a stress or strain that will cause a rupture, a fracture, a fissure, or a shattering either in one spot or in many
{

break a dish by dropping it

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{

break a bone

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{

the column broke when subjected to too great a weight

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{

a flood resulted when the dam broke

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But break goes much further than this. Often, with or without the help of an adverb, it suggests the disruption of something material or immaterial, either in whole or in part. It may then imply a collapsing or causing to collapse
{

the wagon broke down

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{

broke the enemy by the only methods possible—starvation, attrition, and a slow, deadly ... envelopment— Buchan

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{

his spirit was broken

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Similarly it may imply a destruction of completeness, integrity, or wholeness; thus, one breaks a set of china by losing or destroying one or more pieces of the set; one breaks a ten-dollar bill by spending part of it and getting the remainder in smaller bills or coins
{

break a solid group into factions

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With the same underlying notion it may imply a destruction of continuity (as by interrupting, terminating, or disintegrating)
{

break a circuit

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{

break a journey

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{

broke his silence

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{

break up a friendship

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{

it was the only time that day he saw her pale composure breakCather

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Sometimes the sense of disruption is not obvious, and the idea of piercing so as to let someone or something make entrance or exit predominates
{

broke his way through the crowd

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{

break a new path

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{

break the news gently

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{

she had just broken into her fifty-second year— Woolf

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Most common of the senses that bear only a slight relation to the primary sense of break is one that implies violation or transgression
{

break the law

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{

break the Sabbath

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{

all rules, in education, should be capable of being broken for special reasons— Russell

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Basically crack means to make the sudden, sharp sound characteristic of a breaking of something brittle (as ice, bone, or glass). It is often applied with this denotation to things which make a similar sound yet do not necessarily break
{

crack a whip

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{

the thunder cracks

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{

his voice cracked

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Crack more frequently implies a breaking of something hard or brittle or of something also hollow, often with a sudden sharp sound and usually without a separation of the parts
{

the dish was cracked, not broken

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{

cracking nuts between two stones

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{

the mirror was cracked by the explosion

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{

the sound of cracking glass

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{

the thin ice cracked under the skater's weight

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Occasionally it implies merely the breaking of something that has grown dry or parched
{

fever has made his lips crack

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{

the prolonged drought has caused the earth to crack

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Burst usually implies a breaking (as into pieces) with a scattering of contents by the force of internal pressure
{

burst a blood vessel

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{

the boiler burst under too great pressure

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{

bombs bursting in air— Key

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{

the willow scarce holds the sap that tightens the bark and would burst it if it did not enlarge to the pressure— Jefferies

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Sometimes the implication is merely the sudden release or the likelihood of such release of something seeking utterance but hitherto suppressed or held back
{

burst into laughter

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{

bursting with suppressed merriment

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{

burst into tears

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Sometimes a breaking under tension, under concussion, or through limitations is the only implication that the word carries
{

burst the bonds which tied him

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or it may stress the violence of the force that opens
{

burst open the doors

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or the suddenness with which someone or something comes out or in
{

the lilacs burst into bloom

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{

she burst into the living room

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{

the news of the attack burst upon the nation

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Bust may be used informally in place of burst especially in the sense of to break under the strain of pressure, of tension, or of concussion
{

this westernmost province ... is beginning to bust its industrial britches— Wall Street Jour.

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Snap fundamentally implies a quick, sudden effort to seize (as by biting or by snatching at), but usually this action is accompanied by a short sharp sound (as a report or a click). Hence snap is often used to imply the action of breaking or bursting when the intent is to suggest a quick, clean-cut break and the sharp sound which accompanies it
{

branch after branch snapped during the storm

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{

a string of his violin snapped

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{

sharp the link of life will snapHousman

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Shatter literally implies a breaking into many pieces, but unlike burst, which emphasizes the cause, it stresses the effect, a scattering of the pieces far and wide, and a total destruction of the thing involved
{

the flying debris shattered the window

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{

shatter a rock by an explosion of dynamite

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{

a bolt of lightning shattered the oak tree

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Consequently, especially as applied to intangible things, shatter consistently implies a far more devastating and destructive effect than break; thus, "his health was broken by the experience" means that it was seriously impaired, but "his health was shattered by the experience" means that it was impaired beyond the point of complete recovery
{

the shattering of his illusions

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{

the pathetic gropings after the fragments of a shattered faith— Day Lewis

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{

the Great War shook civilization to its base; . . . another conflict on the same scale would shatter it— Inge

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{

the legend of Rome's invincibility had been shatteredBuchan

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Shiver, a chiefly rhetorical term, implies a shattering by dashing, smashing, or any usually external force and a wide scattering of fragments or splinters ; in extended use it ordinarily preserves a context approaching the literal and so has never acquired a detached secondary sense
{

the knight's lance shivered against his opponent's shield

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{

as he crossed the hall, his statue fell, and shivered on the stones— Froude

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{

the upshot of which, was, to smash this witness like a crockery vessel, and shiver his part of the case to useless lumber— Dickens

}
Analogous words: disintegrate, crumble (see DECAY): *detach, disengage: demolish, *destroy
Antonyms: cleave (together): keep (of laws)
Contrasted words: cohere, cling, *stick: unite, *join, combine: observe (see KEEP)
break n 1 Break, gap, interruption, interval, interim, hiatus, lacuna all denote a lapse in continuity.
Break applies not only to a lapse in continuity in something material or substantial
{

a break in geological strata

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{

a break in the clouds

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{

he tried to find a break in the fence

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but also in things (as a course of action or something having extension in time) that may be considered in reference to their continuity
{

he ran the long race without a break

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{

the book was written with no breaks except for eating and for sleeping

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{

a holiday makes a pleasant break in routine

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{

there was no break in the long, cold winter

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{

yet he felt that he was going away forever, and was making the final break with everything that had been dear to him— Cather

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Gap basically applies to an opening (as in a wall or fence) made either by natural decay or by deliberate effort as a means of ingress or egress; the term may also include an opening (as a gorge between mountains) that serves as a passage inward or outward
{

the Delaware Water Gap

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or that seems like a chasm or void, in representing either a break in continuity or in leaving an unfilled or unfillable space
{

here's our chief guest. If he had been forgotten, it had been as a gap in our great feast— Shak.

}
{

so that the jest is clearly to be seen, not in the words—but in the gap between— Cowper

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{

a fatal gap in our security structure— Truman

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{

one would like to cling to the old-fashioned theory that there is a gap between accusation and proof— Schlesinger b. 1917

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Interruption implies a break that not only makes for a lapse in continuity but that disturbs the procedure (as of an action, a work, or a discourse) and causes a temporary stop or that, less often, makes a void or gap in space or order
{

the growing infirmities of age manifest themselves in nothing more strongly, than in an inveterate dislike of interruptionLamb

}
{

those who hope to render themselves . . . oblivious to the harsh interruptions of reality— Day Lewis

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{

the mountain range continues without interruption until it meets the sea

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Interval refers to the distance (as in time or in space) that exists between two things that are basically alike; the term often serves simply as a basis for measuring or suggesting this distance
{

at present, perhaps, it was as well to be asunder. She was in need of a little interval for recollection— Austen

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{

how soft the music of those village bells falling at intervals upon the ear in cadence sweet— Cowper

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{

there stretches on either side of the rivers ... a region of hills and lakes and swamps among which the farms are only upland intervalsCanby

}
Interim applies to the interval between two events (as the death or abdication of a sovereign and the accession of his successor or the discarding of one method and the instituting of another)
{

many contended that the child born to Lucrezia in the interim between her divorce from Pesaro and her marriage to Bisceglie was sired by CesareBeuf

}
{

in a healthy mind there is an interim between one duty and another— Crothers

}
Hiatus applies mainly to an interruption or lapse in time or continuity, and so implies that something important or essential is missing
{

Charles II had been restored to his kingdom . . . after an enforced hiatus of twelve years— A be me thy

}
{

we are likely to be disconcerted by . . . hiatuses of thought, when certain links in the association of ideas are dropped down into the unconscious mind— Edmund Wilson

}
{

"The war," they said, "has caused a hiatus, and thought has broken with tradition"— Rose Macaulay

}
Lacuna may stress the vacuity of a gap or void
{

fills a lacuna in our knowledge as to the whereabouts of many manuscripts— Gohdes

}
{

one of the rare lacunae in this map— Lebon

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and is often used specifically of a blank in a text (as of a manuscript or inscription) where a few words have been omitted or effaced
{

translated the whole work anew, and succeeded in filling many lacunae in the text— Mezger

}
In anatomical use the term more often stresses the minuteness than the vacuity of a gap (as a pit or chamber)
{

cartilage cells are isolated in scattered lacunae

}
Analogous words: division, separation, severance (see corresponding verbs at SEPARATE): falling, sinking, dropping (see FALL): respite, lull, intermission, recess, *pause
2 *breach, split, schism, rent, rupture, rift
Ana, Contrasted words: see those at BREACH 2
3 chance, *opportunity, occasion, time

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • 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

  • Break — (br[=a]k), v. i. 1. To come apart or divide into two or more pieces, usually with suddenness and violence; to part; to burst asunder. [1913 Webster] 2. To open spontaneously, or by pressure from within, as a bubble, a tumor, a seed vessel, a bag …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • break — ► VERB (past broke; past part. broken) 1) separate into pieces as a result of a blow, shock, or strain. 2) make or become inoperative; stop working. 3) interrupt (a continuity, sequence, or course). 4) fail to observe (a law, regulation, or… …   English terms dictionary

  • break — [brāk] vt. broke, broken, breaking [ME breken < OE brecan < IE base * bhreg > BREACH, BREECH, Ger brechen, L frangere] 1. to cause to come apart by force; split or crack sharply into pieces; smash; burst 2. a) …   English World dictionary

  • break — / brāk/ vb broke / brōk/, bro·ken, / brō kən/, break·ing, / brā kiŋ/ vt 1 a: violate transgress break the law …   Law dictionary

  • break — [n1] fissure, opening breach, cleft, crack, discontinuity, disjunction, division, fracture, gap, gash, hole, rent, rift, rupture, schism, split, tear; concepts 230,757 Ant. association, attachment, binding, combination, fastening, juncture break… …   New thesaurus

  • Break — (br[=a]k), n. [See {Break}, v. t., and cf. {Brake} (the instrument), {Breach}, {Brack} a crack.] 1. An opening made by fracture or disruption. [1913 Webster] 2. An interruption of continuity; change of direction; as, a break in a wall; a break in …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • break-up — break ups also breakup 1) N COUNT: usu N of n, n N The break up of a marriage, relationship, or association is the act of it finishing or coming to an end because the people involved decide that it is not working successfully. Since the break up… …   English dictionary

  • break up — {v.} 1. To break into pieces. * /The workmen broke up the pavement to dig up the pipes under it./ * /River ice breaks up in the spring./ 2. {informal} To lose or destroy spirit or self control. Usually used in the passive. * /Mrs. Lawrence was… …   Dictionary of American idioms

  • break up — {v.} 1. To break into pieces. * /The workmen broke up the pavement to dig up the pipes under it./ * /River ice breaks up in the spring./ 2. {informal} To lose or destroy spirit or self control. Usually used in the passive. * /Mrs. Lawrence was… …   Dictionary of American idioms


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