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[kuh-laps] /kəˈlæps/
verb (used without object), collapsed, collapsing.
to fall or cave in; crumble suddenly:
The roof collapsed and buried the crowd.
to be made so that sections or parts can be folded up, as for convenient storage:
This bridge table collapses.
to break down; come to nothing; fail:
Despite all their efforts the peace talks collapsed.
to fall unconscious or as if unconscious or physically depleted, as from a stroke, heart attack, disease, or exhaustion.
  1. to sink into extreme weakness.
  2. (of lungs) to come into an airless state.
verb (used with object), collapsed, collapsing.
to cause to collapse:
He collapsed the table easily.
a falling in or together:
Three miners were trapped by the collapse of the tunnel roof.
a sudden, complete failure; breakdown:
The bribery scandal brought about the complete collapse of his industrial empire.
Origin of collapse
1725-35; < Latin collāpsus (past participle of collābī to fall, fall in ruins), equivalent to col- col-1 + lāp-, variant stem of lābī to fall + -sus, variant of -tus past participle ending
Related forms
precollapse, verb, precollapsed, precollapsing.
uncollapsed, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for collapse
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The music is lost, but the libretto survives, and that is enough to account for the collapse.

    Handel Edward J. Dent
  • He was 65 feet up in the air when the collapse occurred, resulting in his death.

    Flying Machines W.J. Jackman and Thos. H. Russell
  • You would rather witness the collapse of everything, you said.

  • When she reached the corner she stopped, and seemed about to collapse.

    The Avenger E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • She closed her eyes and swayed slightly, but she did not collapse or give way.

    Shavings Joseph C. Lincoln
British Dictionary definitions for collapse


(intransitive) to fall down or cave in suddenly: the whole building collapsed
(intransitive) to fail completely: his story collapsed on investigation
(intransitive) to break down or fall down from lack of strength
to fold (furniture, etc) compactly or (of furniture, etc) to be designed to fold compactly
the act or instance of suddenly falling down, caving in, or crumbling
a sudden failure or breakdown
Derived Forms
collapsible, collapsable, adjective
collapsibility, collapsability, noun
Word Origin
C18: from Latin collāpsus, from collābī to fall in ruins, from lābī to fall
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for collapse

1732, from Latin collapsus, past participle of collabi "fall together," from com- "together" (see com-) + labi "to fall, slip" (see lapse (n.)). The adjective collapsed is attested from c.1600, from Latin collapsus, and perhaps this suggested a verb. Related: Collapsing.


1801, from collapse (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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collapse in Medicine

collapse col·lapse (kə-lāps')
v. col·lapsed, col·laps·ing, col·laps·es

  1. To break down suddenly in strength or health and thereby fall into a condition of extreme prostration.

  2. To fall together or inward suddenly.

  1. A condition of extreme prostration.

  2. A falling together of the walls of a structure.

  3. The failure of a physical system.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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