break down

[ breyk ]SEE DEFINITION OF break down


I realize it more and more every day, but I will stick it out till I break down.

I am haunted by the thought that my car may break down when I have a load of wounded.

There is a refuge for him, a defence, a safeguard which no material attack can break down.

It would not do for her to break down while he was locked up?

Yet it seemed to her that now, at last, she might break down and cry.

Go outside and fetch a little brandy, or I foresee that you'll break down.'

I am not going to break down; but—but there is a photograph of Rogie when he was very small—'

I break down before the knowledge of what I want to say to you.

We may not be able to see through the lead curtains, but we can break down the door.

She dared not speak, knowing that if she made the attempt she must break down.


Old English brecan "to break, shatter, burst; injure, violate, destroy, curtail; break into, rush into; burst forth, spring out; subdue, tame" (class IV strong verb; past tense bræc, past participle brocen), from Proto-Germanic *brekan (cf. Old Frisian breka, Dutch breken, Old High German brehhan, German brechen, Gothic brikan), from PIE root *bhreg- "to break" (see fraction). Most modern senses were in Old English. In reference to the heart from early 13c. Meaning "to disclose" is from early 13c.

Break bread "share food" (with) is from late 14c. Break the ice is c.1600, in reference to the "coldness" of encounters of strangers. Break wind first attested 1550s. To break (something) out (1890s) probably is an image from dock work, of freeing cargo before unloading it. Ironic theatrical good luck formula break a leg has parallels in German Hals- und Beinbruch "break your neck and leg," and Italian in bocca al lupo. Evidence of a highly superstitious craft (cf. Macbeth).


Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.