Did you know that the word ‘breakfast’ comes from the expression ‘breaking your fast’? ‘Fast’ is a period of time you spend without eating and by ‘breaking’ it, you end it. That means you eat something. So, ‘to end’ is one ofe the many meanings the word ‘break’ has. Let’s see what the others are:
1. SEPARATE SOMETHING INTO PARTS BY DAMAGING IT
- I’ve told you not to play football in the living room. You’ll break something!
- I’ve broken my glasses. I can’t see a thing without them.
2. MACHINES STOP WORKING BECAUSE OF DAMAGE
- The coffee machine has broken. How am I going to get through the day?
- What have you done to my laptop? You’ve broken it!
3. NOT TO DO SOMETHING THAT YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO
- She broke her promise when she called her ex. She told me she would never call him again.
- You can’t travel without a ticket. That’s breaking the law.
4. STOP DOING SOMETHING (so that you can eat or drink)
- Let’s break for coffee. I’m too tired to think.
- This meeting has been going on for too long. We should break for lunch.
A PAUSE/ REST
- Let’s take a coffee break.
- Do you have breaks between classes?
- We’re going away for a weekend break in France.
- You deserve a break. Why don’t you take a few days off?
5. INTERRUPT SOMETHING SO THAT IT ENDS
- Jane was so mad at me, she hadn’t been talking to me all day. Then in the evening she broke her silence and we could discuss things.
- Batman survived, because a tree broke his fall.
6. MAKE SOMEBODY WEAK/ BECOME WEEK
- The many years of solitude broke Chuck Noland’s spirit.
- If you break under pressure, teaching is not the right profession for you.
7. BEGIN (dawn, day, storm)
- After a long night alone in the forest, Sue was relieved when dawn broke.
- We were miles from home when the storm broke.
8. BECOME KNOWN (news)
- My parents were tickled pink when we broke the news.
- It’s not a pleasant task to break bad news to someone.
9. CHANGE (voice)
- My nephew used to sing in the choir until his voice broke.
- I tried to keep calm, but my voice broke when I told them I was leaving.
10. DO BETTER THAN SOMEONE WHO HAS DONE THE SAME THING (record)
- I like running, but I know I won’t break the world record.
- Lord of the Rings broke the box-office records when it came out.
11. DECIPHER (code)
- Bletchley Park was the base for code breaking in World War II.
- A group of British matemathicians managed to break the code and read German messages.
12. CHANGE (for coins)
- Can you break a twenty-dollar bill for me, please?
- I’d like this Mars bar, please. Can you break a fifty?
13. AN OPPORTUNITY (informal)
- Richard Branson got his big break when he opened a recording studio.
- Stop waiting for your big break and start working harder.
See this blog post for more words with multiple meanings:
Multiple Meaning Words: Run, Take, Break, Turn, Set, Go, Play, Up