English Thesaurus

Synonyms of 'break'

(verb) 
Definition
the dawn
He fell through the window, breaking the glass.
Synonyms
shatter
Safety glass won't shatter if it's broken.
,
separate
The nose section separates from the fuselage.
, , ,
divide
the artificial line that divided the city
, ,
snap
The brake pedal had just snapped.
, , ,
fragment
It's an exploded fracture – the bones have fragmented.
,
demolish
The building is being demolished to make way for a motorway.
,
sever
Oil was still gushing from the severed fuel line.
,
trash (slang)
,
disintegrate
At 420 mph the windscreen disintegrated.
,
splinter
The ruler cracked and splintered into pieces.
,
smash to smithereens
,
shiver (archaic, literary)
Opposites
(verb) 
Definition
to fracture (a bone) in (a limb, etc.)
She broke her leg in a skiing accident.
Synonyms
fracture
You've fractured a rib.
,
crack
A gas main had cracked under my neighbour's garage.
Crack the salt crust and you will find the skin just peels off the fish.
,
smash
The bottle smashed against a wall.
(verb) 
Definition
to burst or cut the surface of (skin)
The bandage must be put on when the blister breaks.
Synonyms
burst
The driver lost control when a tyre burst.
She burst the balloon with a pin.
,
tear
a country that has been torn by civil war
,
split
In a severe gale the ship split in two.
,
puncture
The bullet punctured his stomach.
,
perforate
The table was perforated by a series of small holes.
(verb) 
Definition
to damage or become damaged so as not to work
When the clutch broke, the car was locked into second gear.
Synonyms
stop working
,
break down
Their car broke down.
,
go wrong
If your DVD player goes wrong, you can have it repaired.
,
give out
,
pack up (British, informal)
Our car packed up.
,
have had it
,
seize up
,
cease to function
,
conk out (informal)
,
die
The engine coughed, spluttered, and died.
,
go on the blink
,
go kaput
,
go phut
(verb) 
Definition
to fail to observe (an agreement, promise, or law)
We didn't know we were breaking the law.
Synonyms
disobey
He was forever disobeying the rules.
,
breach
The film breached the criminal libel laws.
,
defy
This was the first time that I had dared to defy her.
,
violate
They violated the ceasefire agreement.
, , ,
infringe
The film exploited his image and infringed his copyright.
,
contravene (formal)
He said the article did not contravene the industry's code of conduct.
,
transgress
He had transgressed the boundaries of good taste.
,
go counter to
,
infract (law)
Opposites
(verb) 
Definition
to bring or come to an end
He aims to break the vicious cycle.
Synonyms
stop
His heart stopped three times.
,
cut
They used pressure tactics such as cutting food and water supplies.
,
check
Today's meeting must focus on checking the spread of violence.
, , ,
cut short
,
(verb) 
The noise broke my concentration.
Synonyms
disturb
I didn't want to disturb you.
,
cut
a straight line that cuts the vertical axis
,
interrupt
`Sorry to interrupt, Colonel.'
,
interfere with
(verb) 
They have yet to break the link with the trade unions.
Synonyms
end
Talks have resumed to try to end the fighting.
,
stop
The music stopped and the lights were turned up.
, ,
drop
I was told to drop the idea.
,
give up
, , , ,
terminate
Her next remark abruptly terminated the conversation.
,
put an end to
,
discontinue
Do not discontinue the treatment without consulting your doctor.
,
bring to an end
,
pull the plug on
,
call a halt to
(verb) 
Definition
to cause (a person) to give up (a habit)
If you continue to smoke, keep trying to break the habit.
Synonyms
give up
,
stop
We need to stop wasting so much money.
,
kick (informal)
I'm trying to kick the habit.
,
abandon
The authorities have abandoned any attempt to distribute food.
,
quit
I'm trying to quit biting my nails.
,
cut out
,
pack in
,
leave off
,
say goodbye to
10 (verb) 
Definition
to weaken or overwhelm or be weakened or overwhelmed, as in spirit
He never let his jailers break him.
Synonyms
weaken
Her opponents believe that her authority has been fatally weakened.
,
undermine
This will undermine their chances of success.
,
cow
They were not cowed by physical intimidation.
,
tame
Two regiments were called out to tame the crowds.
,
subdue
They admit they have not been able to subdue the rebels.
,
demoralize
One of the objectives is to demoralize enemy troops.
,
11 (verb) 
Definition
to reduce to poverty or the state of bankruptcy
The newspapers can make or break you.
Synonyms
ruin
Roads have been destroyed and crops ruined.
,
destroy
The building was completely destroyed.
,
crush
Their vehicle was crushed by an army tank.
,
humiliate
His teacher continually humiliates him in maths lessons.
,
bring down
,
bankrupt
The move to the market nearly bankrupted the firm and its director.
, ,
impoverish
a society impoverished by wartime inflation
, ,
make bankrupt
,
bring to ruin
12 (verb) 
Definition
to discontinue or become discontinued
They broke for lunch.
Synonyms
pause
He paused briefly before answering.
,
stop briefly
,
stop
She doesn't stop to think about what she's saying.
,
rest
They rested only once that morning.
, ,
cease
A small number of firms have ceased trading.
,
take a break
,
have a breather (informal)
13 (verb) 
We broke our journey at a small country hotel.
Synonyms
interrupt
We interrupted our holiday to return to London.
,
stop
I think she really would have liked to stop everything right there.
,
suspend
The union suspended strike action this week.
14 (verb) 
Definition
to weaken the impact or force of
She was saved by bushes which broke her fall.
Synonyms
,
reduce
Consumption is being reduced by 25 per cent.
,
ease
The heavy snow had eased a little.
,
moderate
They are hoping that she will be persuaded to moderate her views.
,
diminish
Federalism is intended to diminish the power of the central state.
,
temper
He had to learn to temper his enthusiasm.
,
soften
He could not think how to soften the blow of what he had to tell her.
,
lessen
Keep immunisations up to date to lessen the risk of serious illness.
,
alleviate
A great deal can be done to alleviate back pain.
,
lighten
He felt the need to lighten the atmosphere.
15 (verb) 
Definition
to reveal or be revealed
He resigned his post as Bishop when the scandal broke.
Synonyms
be revealed
,
come out
The truth is beginning to come out now.
,
be reported
,
be published
,
be announced
,
be made public
,
be proclaimed
,
be let out
,
be imparted
,
be divulged
,
come out in the wash
16 (verb) 
Definition
to reveal or be revealed
I worried for ages and decided I had better break the news.
Synonyms
reveal
She has refused to reveal her daughter's whereabouts.
,
tell
The facts tell a very different story.
,
announce
The couple were planning to announce their engagement.
,
declare
Anyone carrying money into or out of the country must declare it.
,
disclose
Neither side would disclose details of the transaction.
,
proclaim
He continues to proclaim his innocence.
,
divulge
He was charged with divulging state secrets.
,
make known
17 (verb) 
Definition
to improve on or surpass
The film has broken all box office records.
Synonyms
beat
He was as eager as his captain to beat the record.
,
top
How are you ever going to top that?
,
better
He bettered the old record of 4 minutes 24.
,
exceed
His performance exceeded all expectations.
,
go beyond
,
excel
Few dancers have excelled her in virtuosity.
,
surpass
He was determined to surpass the achievements of his older brothers.
,
outstrip
In recent years demand has outstripped supply.
,
outdo
Both sides have tried to outdo each other.
,
cap (informal)
He always has to cap everyone else's achievements.
18 (verb) 
Definition
to come into being
They continued their search as dawn broke.
Synonyms
happen
We cannot say for sure what will happen.
,
appear
A woman appeared at the far end of the street.
,
emerge
He was waiting outside as she emerged from the building.
,
occur
The deaths occurred when troops tried to disperse the demonstrators.
,
erupt
Lava erupted from the volcano and flowed over the ridge.
,
burst out
Then war burst out.
,
come into being
,
come forth suddenly
19 (verb) 
Definition
(of waves) to strike violently against
He listened to the waves breaking against the shore.
Synonyms
pound
He pounded the table with his fist.
,
crash
Her glass fell on the floor and crashed into a thousand pieces.
,
batter
He battered his opponent around the head.
,
lash
The rain was absolutely lashing down.
,
20 (verb) 
Definition
to decipher
It was feared they could break the allies' code.
Synonyms
decode
The secret documents were intercepted and decoded.
,
crack
He has finally cracked the code after years of painstaking research.
,
work out
,
solve
Their domestic reforms did nothing to solve unemployment.
,
interpret
The pictures are often difficult to interpret.
,
decipher
I'm still no closer to deciphering the code.
,
unscramble
,
decrypt
,
descramble
21 (verb) 
Godfrey's voice broke, and halted.
Synonyms
,
shake
I stood there, crying and shaking with fear.
,
tremble
He began to tremble all over.
,
falter
Her voice faltered and she had to stop a moment to control it.
,
waver
Some military commanders wavered over whether to support the coup.
,
stammer
She stammered her way through an introduction.
,
stutter
I was trembling so hard, I thought I would stutter when I spoke.
,
speak haltingly
22 (verb) 
I've been waiting for the weather to break.
Synonyms
change
We are trying to detect and understand how the climate changes.
,
shift
The wind shifted and the helicopter lurched.
,
alter
They have never altered their programmes.
(noun) 
Definition
the act or result of breaking
a break in the earth's surface
Synonyms
fracture
large fractures in the crust creating the valleys
,
opening
He squeezed through an opening in the fence.
,
tear
I peered through a tear in the van's curtains.
,
hole
They got in through a hole in the wall.
kids with holes in the knees of their jeans
,
split
The seat had a few small splits around the corners.
,
crack
The plate had a crack in it.
, , ,
breach
A large battering ram hammered a breach in the wall.
, ,
rupture
ruptures in a 60-mile pipeline on the island
,
gash
a long gash just above his right eye
, ,
fissure
There was a great crack, and a fissure opened up.
(noun) 
Definition
any sudden interruption in a continuous action
Nothing has been discussed that might lead to a break in the deadlock.
Synonyms
let-up (informal)
There was no sign of any let-up in the battle on the money markets yesterday.
,
halt
Air traffic has been brought to a halt.
, ,
suspension
the suspension of flights between London and Manchester
,
lessening
a lessening of tension on the border
, ,
interruption
interruptions in the supply of food and fuel
,
respite
I rang home during a brief respite at work.
,
lull
a lull in the conversation
,
cessation
They would not agree to a cessation of hostilities.
,
remission
It had been raining hard all day, without remission.
,
breathing space
We hope that it will give us some breathing space.
,
slackening
,
hiatus
Efforts to reach a settlement resume today after a two-week hiatus.
(noun) 
a sudden break in the clouds
Synonyms
gap
the wind tearing through gaps in the window frames
, ,
space
The space underneath could be used as a storage area.
, ,
divide
the great divide between generations
,
crack
She watched him though a crack in the curtains.
, ,
rift
In the open bog are many rifts and potholes.
,
cleft
a narrow cleft in the rocks too small for a human to squeeze through
,
chink
He peered through a chink in the curtains.
,
crevice
a huge boulder with rare ferns growing in every crevice
,
cranny
The lizards fled into crannies in the rocks.
, ,
(noun) 
They always play that music during the break.
Synonyms
interval
During the interval, wine was served.
,
pause
There was a brief pause in the conversation.
,
recess
Parliament returns to work today after its summer recess.
,
interlude
It was a happy interlude in her life.
,
intermission
Drinks were served during the intermission.
,
entr'acte
(noun) 
Definition
a (short) holiday
They are currently taking a short break in Spain.
Synonyms
holiday
I've just come back from a holiday in the United States.
,
leave
Why don't you take a few days' leave?
,
vacation
During the vacation I visited Costa Rica.
,
time off
, ,
awayday
,
schoolie (Australian)
,
accumulated day off or ADO (Australian)
(noun) 
Definition
a fortunate opportunity, esp. to prove oneself
(informal)  The rain was a lucky break for the American.
Synonyms
stroke of luck
,
chance
All eligible people will get a chance to vote.
,
opportunity
I was given an opportunity to bathe and shower.
I had the opportunity to go abroad and study.
, ,
fortune
Such good fortune must be shared with my friends.
,
opening
All she needed was an opening to show her capabilities.
(noun) 
There is some threat of a break in relations between them.
Synonyms
breach
the breach between Tito and Stalin
,
split
a split in the party
, ,
separation
a permanent separation from his son
,
rift
They hope to heal the rift with their father.
,
rupture
a major rupture between the two countries
,
alienation
Her sense of alienation from the world disappeared.
,
severance
,
disaffection
evidence of the people's disaffection with their leaders
,
schism
The church seems to be on the brink of schism.
,
estrangement
The quarrel marked the beginning of a 20-year estrangement.
, ,
division
the division between the prosperous west and the impoverished east

Phrasal verbs

See break away

Additional synonyms

in the sense of abandon
Definition
to give up completely
The authorities have abandoned any attempt to distribute food.
Synonyms
give up,
cut out,
pack in (British, informal),
leave off,
desist from
in the sense of alienation
Her sense of alienation from the world disappeared.
Synonyms
setting against,
turning away,
breaking off,
remoteness
in the sense of alleviate
Definition
to lessen (pain or suffering)
A great deal can be done to alleviate back pain.

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Video: pronunciation of 'break'

Source

Thesaurus for break from the Collins English Thesaurus
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