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


But there was a roaring in my brain such as the ice makes when it is breaking up.

Interfere with the wave which already is breaking up the thought waves.

The ice is breaking up—we will pursue this folly no further.

They had begun by counting upon the breaking up of the Habsburg Monarchy.

The period shows the breaking up of an old society and the formation of a new.

The ice was breaking up, and they set out for home forthwith.

It was the signal for breaking up the party, and we soon took our leave.

It must have been close to midnight before we spoke of breaking up.

But just as we were breaking up, Lady Bethune told us some interesting things.

If people thought it was breaking up, they'd be desperate, too.


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.