Definition 2023


break up

See also: breakup and break-up


Alternative forms


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

  1. (intransitive) To break or separate into pieces; to disintegrate or come apart.
    It broke up when it hit the ground.
  2. (intransitive, idiomatic) To end a relationship.
    She broke up with her boyfriend last week.
  3. (intransitive, idiomatic) To dissolve; to part.
    The meeting finally broke up after a three-hour discussion.
    • 1762, Charles Johnstone, The Reverie; or, A Flight to the Paradise of Fools, volume 2, Dublin: Printed by Dillon Chamberlaine, OCLC 519072825, page 202:
      At length, one night, when the company by ſome accident broke up much ſooner than ordinary, ſo that the candles were not half burnt out, ſhe was not able to reſiſt the temptation, but reſolved to have them ſome way or other. Accordingly, as ſoon as the hurry was over, and the ſervants, as ſhe thought, all gone to ſleep, ſhe ſtole out of her bed, and went down ſtairs, naked to her ſhift as ſhe was, with a deſign to ſteal them []
    • 1898, J. Meade Falkner, Moonfleet Chapter 4
      So the meeting broke up, and the torchlight grew dimmer, and died away as it had come in a red flicker on the roof, and the footsteps sounded fainter as they went up the passage, until the vault was left to the dead men and me.
  4. (intransitive, idiomatic) Of a school, to close for the holidays at the end of term.
  5. (intransitive, idiomatic) Of a telephone conversation, to cease to be understandable because of a bad connection.
    You're breaking up. Can you repeat that?
  6. (transitive) To break or separate into pieces.
    Break up the cheese and put it in the salad.
  7. (transitive, idiomatic) To stop a fight; to separate people who are fighting.
    The police came in to break up the disturbance.
  8. (intransitive, idiomatic, figuratively) Become disorganised
    • 2011 September 18, Ben Dirs, “Rugby World Cup 2011: England 41-10 Georgia”, in BBC Sport:
      England's superior conditioning began to show in the final quarter and as the game began to break up, their three-quarters began to stamp their authority on the game. And when Foden went on a mazy run from inside his own 22 and put Ashton in for a long-range try, any threat of an upset was when and truly snuffed out.


See also