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


But early or late in the morning it breaks up and rolls away.

Sometimes the fleece will retain its fleece form, but usually it breaks up.

This glazing is quite hard, and breaks up into angular pieces.

Here he breaks up a "nest" of tories, who were supplying the English with hay, grain and other things necessary for their army.

But the repetition is feeble, and breaks up the structure of ver.

Then he goes to work and breaks up, we will say, 50 acres of land.

It deceives, it decoys, it diverts; it dissipates and breaks up our chain of thought.

Hannibal breaks up his winter quarters and starts for Italy.

It breaks up into tortuous channels that lead everywhere and nowhere.

It would be well not to get hemmed in by the crowd as it breaks up.


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.