See more synonyms for ground on
  1. the solid surface of the earth; firm or dry land: to fall to the ground.
  2. earth or soil: stony ground.
  3. land having an indicated character: rising ground.
  4. Often grounds. a tract of land appropriated to a special use: picnic grounds; a hunting ground.
  5. Often grounds. the foundation or basis on which a belief or action rests; reason or cause: grounds for dismissal.
  6. subject for discussion; topic: Sex education is forbidden ground in some school curricula.
  7. rational or factual support for one's position or attitude, as in a debate or argument: on firm ground; on shaky ground.
  8. the main surface or background in painting, decorative work, lace, etc.
  9. Fine Arts.
    1. a coating of some substance serving as a surface for paint, ink, or other media in art: Lead white is a traditional ground for oil paintings.
    2. ground color(def 2).
  10. (in perception) the background in a visual field, contrasted with the figure.
  11. Also called etching ground. an acid-resistant substance, composed of wax, gum, and resin in varying proportions, applied to the entire surface of an etching plate and through which the design is drawn with an etching needle.
  12. grounds, dregs or sediment: coffee grounds.
  13. grounds, the gardens, lawn, etc., surrounding and belonging to a building.
  14. Electricity. a conducting connection between an electric circuit or equipment and the earth or some other conducting body.
  15. Music. ground bass.
  16. Nautical. the bottom of a body of water.
  17. the earth's solid or liquid surface; land or water.
  18. Carpentry.
    1. a strip of wood to which woodwork can be attached, set flush with the plaster finish of a room.
    2. a strip of wood or length of corner bead used at an opening as a stop for plasterwork.
  1. situated on or at, or adjacent to, the surface of the earth: a ground attack.
  2. pertaining to the ground.
  3. Military. operating on land: ground forces.
verb (used with object)
  1. to lay or set on the ground.
  2. to place on a foundation; fix firmly; settle or establish; found.
  3. to instruct in elements or first principles: to ground students in science.
  4. to furnish with a ground or background, as on decorative work.
  5. to cover (wallpaper) with colors or other materials before printing.
  6. Electricity. to establish a ground for (a circuit, device, etc.).
  7. Nautical. to cause (a vessel) to run aground.
  8. Aeronautics. to restrict (an aircraft or the like) to the ground because of bad weather, the unsatisfactory condition of the aircraft, etc.
  9. to forbid (a pilot) to fly because of bad health, failure to comply with safety regulations, or the like.
  10. Informal. to put out of action or make unable to participate: The quarterback was grounded by a knee injury.
  11. Informal. to restrict the activities, especially the social activities, of: I can't go to the party—my parents have grounded me until my grades improve.
verb (used without object)
  1. to come to or strike the ground.
  2. Baseball.
    1. to hit a ground ball.
    2. to ground out.
Verb Phrases
  1. ground out, Baseball. to be put out at first base after hitting a ground ball to the infield.
  1. break ground,
    1. to plow.
    2. to begin excavation for a construction project.
    3. to begin upon or take preparatory measures for any undertaking.
  2. cover ground,
    1. to pass or travel over a certain area.
    2. to make a certain amount of progress in dealing with a piece of work, subject, treatise, or the like: He talked for two hours without covering much ground.
  3. cut the ground from under, to render (an argument, position, person, etc.) ineffective or invalid; refute: It didn't require much effort to cut the ground from under that case.
  4. from the ground up,
    1. gradually from the most elementary level to the highest level: She learned the business from the ground up.
    2. extensively; thoroughly: The professor knew his subject from the ground up.
  5. gain ground,
    1. to make progress; advance.
    2. to gain approval or acceptance: The case for air-pollution control is gaining ground throughout the country.
  6. give ground, to yield to force or forceful argument; retreat: The disarmament talks reached an impasse when neither side would give ground on inspection proposals.
  7. hold/stand one's ground, to maintain one's position; be steadfast: The referee stood his ground, though his decision was hotly contested by the crowd.
  8. into the ground, beyond a reasonable or necessary point: You've stated your case, and you needn't run it into the ground.
  9. lose ground,
    1. to retreat or be forced back.
    2. to lose one's advantage; suffer a reverse.
    3. to wane in popularity or acceptance; begin to fail: Our candidate is losing ground in industrial areas.
  10. off the ground, Informal. into action or well under way: The play never got off the ground.
  11. on one's own ground, in an area or situation that one knows well.
  12. on the ground, at the place of interest or importance; actively engaged: Minutes after the bank robbery reporters were on the ground to get the story.
  13. shift ground, to change position in an argument or situation.
  14. suit down to the ground, to be perfectly satisfactory; please greatly: This climate suits me down to the ground.
  15. take the ground, Nautical. to become grounded at low water.
  16. to ground,
    1. into a den, burrow, shelter, or the like: a fox gone to ground.
    2. into concealment or hiding: Rather than take the witness stand, she went to ground in another country.

Origin of ground

before 900; (noun) Middle English grownd, grund, Old English grund; cognate with Dutch grond, German Grund; (verb) Middle English grundien, grownden “to set on a foundation, establish,” derivative of the noun
Related formsground·a·ble, adjectiveground·a·bly, adverbground·ed·ly, adverbground·ed·ness, nounground·ward, ground·wards, adverb, adjectiveun·ground·a·ble, adjective


verb (used with object), broke or (Archaic) brake; bro·ken or (Archaic) broke; break·ing.
  1. to smash, split, or divide into parts violently; reduce to pieces or fragments: He broke a vase.
  2. to infringe, ignore, or act contrary to (a law, rule, promise, etc.): She broke her promise.
  3. to dissolve or annul (often followed by off): to break off friendly relations with another country.
  4. to fracture a bone of (some part of the body): He broke his leg.
  5. to lacerate; wound: to break the skin.
  6. to destroy or interrupt the regularity, uniformity, continuity, or arrangement of; interrupt: The bleating of a foghorn broke the silence. The troops broke formation.
  7. to put an end to; overcome; stop: His touchdown run broke the tie. She found it hard to break the cigarette habit.
  8. to discover the system, key, method, etc., for decoding or deciphering (a cryptogram), especially by the methods of cryptanalysis.
  9. to remove a part from (a set or collection): She had to break the set to sell me the two red ones I wanted.
  10. to exchange for or divide into smaller units or components: She broke a dollar bill into change. The prism broke the light into all the colors of the rainbow.
  11. to make a way through; penetrate: The stone broke the surface of the water.
  12. Law.
    1. to open or force one's way into (a dwelling, store, etc.).
    2. to contest (a will) successfully by judicial action.
  13. to make one's way out of, especially by force: to break jail.
  14. to better (a given score or record): He never broke 200 in bowling or 80 in golf.
  15. to disclose or divulge personally in speech or writing: He broke the good news to her at dinner.
  16. to solve: The police needed only a week to break that case.
  17. to rupture (a blood vessel): She almost broke a blood vessel from laughing so hard.
  18. to disable or destroy by or as if by shattering or crushing: to break a watch.
  19. to cause (a blister, boil, or the like) to burst, as by puncturing: She broke the blister with a needle.
  20. to ruin financially; make bankrupt: They threatened to break him if he didn't stop discounting their products.
  21. to overcome or wear down the spirit, strength, or resistance of; to cause to yield, especially under pressure, torture, or the like: They broke him by the threat of blackmail.
  22. to dismiss or reduce in rank.
  23. to impair or weaken the power, effect, or intensity of: His arm broke the blow.
  24. to train to obedience; tame: to break a horse.
  25. to train away from a habit or practice (usually followed by of).
  26. Electricity. to render (a circuit) incomplete; stop the flow of (a current).
  27. Journalism.
    1. to release (a story) for publication or airing on radio or television: They will break the story tomorrow.
    2. to continue (a story or article) on another page, especially when the page is not the following one.
  28. Pool. to cause (racked billiard balls) to scatter by striking with the cue ball.
  29. Sports.
    1. (of a pitcher, bowler, etc.) to hurl (a ball) in such a way as to cause it to change direction after leaving the hand: He broke a curve over the plate for a strike.
    2. (in tennis and other racket games) to score frequently or win against (an opponent's serve).
  30. Nautical. to unfurl (a flag) suddenly by an easily released knot.
  31. to prove the falsity or show the lack of logic of: The FBI broke his alibi by proving he knew how to shoot a pistol.
  32. to begin or initiate (a plan or campaign), especially with much publicity: They were going to break the sales campaign with a parade in April.
  33. to open the breech or action of (a shotgun, rifle, or revolver), as by snapping open the hinge between the barrel and the butt.
verb (used without object), broke or (Archaic) brake; bro·ken or (Archaic) broke; break·ing.
  1. to shatter, burst, or become broken; separate into parts or fragments, especially suddenly and violently: The glass broke on the floor.
  2. to become suddenly discontinuous or interrupted; stop abruptly: She pulled too hard and the string broke.
  3. to become detached, separated, or disassociated (usually followed by away, off, or from): The knob broke off in his hand.
  4. to become inoperative or to malfunction, as through wear or damage: The television set broke this afternoon.
  5. to begin suddenly or violently or change abruptly into something else: War broke over Europe.
  6. to begin uttering a sound or series of sounds or to be uttered suddenly: She broke into song. When they entered, a cheer broke from the audience.
  7. to express or start to express an emotion or mood: His face broke into a smile.
  8. to free oneself or escape suddenly, as from restraint or dependency (often followed by away): He broke away from the arresting officer. She finally broke away from her parents and got an apartment of her own.
  9. to run or dash toward something suddenly (usually followed by for): The pass receiver broke for the goal line.
  10. to force a way (usually followed by in, into, or through): The hunters broke through the underbrush.
  11. to burst or rupture: A blood vessel broke in his nose. The blister broke when he pricked it.
  12. to interrupt or halt an activity (usually followed by in, into, forth, or from): Don't break in on the conversation. Let's break for lunch.
  13. to appear or arrive suddenly (usually followed by in, into, or out): A deer broke into the clearing. A rash broke out on her arm.
  14. to dawn: The day broke hot and sultry.
  15. to begin violently and suddenly: The storm broke.
  16. (of a storm, foul weather, etc.) to cease: The weather broke after a week, and we were able to sail for home.
  17. to part the surface of water, as a jumping fish or surfacing submarine.
  18. to give way or fail, as health, strength, or spirit; collapse: After years of hardship and worry, his health broke.
  19. to yield or submit to pressure, torture, or the like: He broke under questioning.
  20. (of the heart) to be overwhelmed with sorrow: Her heart broke when he told her that he no longer loved her.
  21. (of the voice or a musical instrument) to change harshly from one register or pitch to another: After his voice broke, he could no longer sing soprano parts.
  22. (of the voice) to cease, waver, or change tone abruptly, especially from emotional strain: His voice broke when he mentioned her name.
  23. (of value or prices) to drop sharply and considerably.
  24. to disperse or collapse by colliding with something: The waves broke on the shore.
  25. to break dance.
  26. (of a horse in a harness race) to fail to keep to a trot or pace, as by starting to gallop.
  27. Botany. to mutate; sport.
  28. Linguistics. to undergo breaking.
  29. Billiards, Pool. to make a break; take the first turn in a game.
  30. Sports. (of a pitched or bowled ball) to change direction: The ball broke over the plate.
  31. Horse Racing, Track. to leave the starting point: The horses broke fast from the gate.
  32. Boxing. to step back or separate from a clinch: The fighters fell into a clinch and broke on the referee's order.
  33. to take place; occur.
  34. Journalism. to become known, published, or aired: The story broke in the morning papers.
  35. Horticulture. to produce flowers or leaves.
  1. an act or instance of breaking; disruption or separation of parts; fracture; rupture: There was a break in the window.
  2. an opening made by breaking; gap: The break in the wall had not been repaired.
  3. a rush away from a place; an attempt to escape: a break for freedom.
  4. a sudden dash or rush, as toward something: When the rain lessened, I made a break for home.
  5. a suspension of or sudden rupture in friendly relations.
  6. an interruption of continuity; departure from or rupture with: Abstract painters made a break with the traditions of the past.
  7. an abrupt or marked change, as in sound or direction, or a brief pause: They noticed a curious break in his voice.
  8. Informal.
    1. an opportunity or stroke of fortune, especially a lucky one.
    2. a chance to improve one's lot, especially one unlooked for or undeserved.
  9. the breaks, Informal. the way things happen; fate: Sorry to hear about your bad luck, but I guess those are the breaks.
  10. a brief rest, as from work: The actors took a ten-minute break from rehearsal.
  11. Radio, Television. a brief, scheduled interruption of a program or broadcasting period for the announcement of advertising or station identification.
  12. Prosody. a pause or caesura.
  13. Jazz. a solo passage, usually of from 2 to 12 bars, during which the rest of the instruments are silent.
  14. Music. the point in the scale where the quality of voice of one register changes to that of another, as from chest to head.
  15. break dancing.
  16. a sharp and considerable drop in the prices of stock issues.
  17. Electricity. an opening or discontinuity in a circuit.
  18. Printing.
    1. one or more blank lines between two paragraphs.
    2. breaks.suspension points.
  19. the place, after a letter, where a word is or may be divided at the end of a line.
  20. a collapse of health, strength, or spirit; breakdown.
  21. Informal. an indiscreet or awkward remark or action; social blunder; faux pas.
  22. Billiards, Pool. a series of successful strokes; run.
  23. Pool. the opening play, in which the cue ball is shot to scatter the balls.
  24. Sports. a change in direction of a pitched or bowled ball.
  25. Horse Racing, Track. the start of a race.
  26. (in harness racing) an act or instance of a horse's changing from a trot or pace into a gallop or other step.
  27. Bowling. a failure to knock down all ten pins in a single frame.
  28. Boxing. an act or instance of stepping back or separating from a clinch: a clean break.
  29. any of several stages in the grinding of grain in which the bran is separated from the kernel.
  30. Botany. a sport.
  31. Journalism. the point at the bottom of a column where a printed story is carried over to another column or page.
  32. Nautical. the place at which a superstructure, deckhouse, or the like, rises from the main deck of a vessel.
  33. breaks, Physical Geography. an area dissected by small ravines and gullies.
  34. Mining. a fault or offset, as in a vein or bed of ore.
Verb Phrases
  1. break away,
    1. to leave or escape, especially suddenly or hurriedly.
    2. to sever connections or allegiance, as to tradition or a political group.
    3. to start prematurely: The horse broke away from the starting gate.
  2. break back, Tennis. to win a game served by an opponent immediately after the opponent has done so against one's own serve.
  3. break down,
    1. to become ineffective.
    2. to lose control; weaken: He broke down and wept at the sad news.
    3. to have a physical or mental collapse.
    4. to cease to function: The car broke down.
    5. to itemize: to break down a hotel bill into daily charges.
    6. separate (a compound) into its constituent molecules.
    7. Electricity.(of an insulator) to fail, as when subjected to excessively high voltage, permitting a current to pass.
    8. to decompose.
    9. to analyze.
    10. to classify.
    11. to separate into constituent parts: to break down a beef carcass into basic cuts.
  4. break in,
    1. to enter by force or craft: Someone broke in and made off with all the furniture.
    2. to train or instruct; initiate: The boss is breaking in a new assistant.
    3. to begin to wear or use in order to make comfortable: These shoes haven't been broken in.
    4. to interrupt: He broke in with a ridiculous objection.
    5. to run (new machinery) initially under reduced load and speed, until any stiffness of motion has departed and all parts are ready to operate under normal service conditions; run in; wear in.
  5. break in on/upon, to enter with force upon or accidentally interrupt; intrude upon: The visitor opened the wrong door and broke in on a private conference.
  6. break into,
    1. to interpose; interrupt: He broke into the conversation at a crucial moment.
    2. to begin some activity.
    3. to be admitted into; enter, as a business or profession: It is difficult to break into the theater.
    4. to enter by force: They broke into the store and stole the safe.
  7. break off,
    1. to sever by breaking.
    2. to stop suddenly; discontinue: to break off a conversation; to break off relations with one's neighbors.
  8. break out,
    1. to begin abruptly; arise: An epidemic broke out.
    2. Pathology.(of certain diseases) to appear in eruptions.
    3. (of a person) to manifest a skin eruption.
    4. to prepare for use: to break out the parachutes.
    5. to take out of (storage, concealment, etc.) for consumption: to break out one's best wine.
    6. dislodge (the anchor) from the bottom.
    7. to escape; flee: He spent three years in prison before he broke out.
    8. to separate into categories or list specific items: to break out gift ideas according to price range; The report breaks out quarterly profits and losses.
  9. break up,
    1. to separate; scatter.
    2. to put an end to; discontinue.
    3. to divide or become divided into pieces.
    4. to dissolve.
    5. to disrupt; upset: Television commercials during a dramatic presentation break up the continuity of effect.
    6. (of a personal relationship) to end: to break up a friendship; Their marriage broke up last year.
    7. to end a personal relationship: Bob and Mary broke up last month.
    8. to be or cause to be overcome with laughter: The comedian told several jokes that broke up the audience.
  10. break with,
    1. to sever relations with; separate from: to break with one's family.
    2. to depart from; repudiate: to break with tradition.
  1. break bulk, Nautical. to remove a cargo wholly or in part.
  2. break camp, to pack up tents and equipment and resume a journey or march: They broke camp at dawn and proceeded toward the mountains.
  3. break even, to finish a business transaction, period of gambling, series of games, etc., with no loss or gain: He played poker all night and broke even.
  4. break ground,
    1. to begin construction, especially of a building or group of buildings: to break ground for a new housing development.
    2. free an anchor from the bottom; break out.
  5. break it down, Australian Slang.
    1. stop it; calm down.
    2. (used as an exclamation of disbelief) that can't be true!
  6. break (someone's) heart. to cause someone great disappointment or sorrow, as to disappoint in love: It breaks my heart to hear you are leaving me.
  7. break service, Tennis. to win a game served by one's opponent.
  8. break sheer, Nautical. (of an anchored vessel) to drift into such a position as to risk fouling the anchor or anchor cable.Compare sheer2(def 6).
  9. break step. step(def 38).
  10. break wind. to expel gas from the stomach and bowels through the anus.
  11. give me a break, Informal. (used to express annoyance, disbelief, etc.): He didn't show up again? Oh, give me a break!

Origin of break

before 900; Middle English breken, Old English brecan; cognate with Dutch breken, German brechen, Gothic brikan; akin to Latin frangere; see fragile
Related formsbreak·a·ble, adjectivebreak·a·ble·ness, nounbreak·a·bly, adverbbreak·less, adjectivenon·break·a·ble, adjectivere·break, verb, re·broke, re·bro·ken, re·break·ing.un·break·a·ble, adjectiveun·break·a·ble·ness, nounun·break·a·bly, adverb
Can be confusedbrake break

Synonyms for break

See more synonyms for on

Synonym study

1. Break, crush, shatter, smash mean to reduce to parts, violently or by force. Break means to divide by means of a blow, a collision, a pull, or the like: to break a chair, a leg, a strap. To crush is to subject to (usually heavy or violent) pressure so as to press out of shape or reduce to shapelessness or to small particles: to crush a beetle. To shatter is to break in such a way as to cause the pieces to fly in many directions: to shatter a light globe. To smash is to break noisily and suddenly into many pieces: to smash a glass.

Antonyms for break

1. repair. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for break ground


  1. the land surface
  2. earth or soilhe dug into the ground outside his house
  3. (plural) the land around a dwelling house or other building
  4. (sometimes plural) an area of land given over to a purposefootball ground; burial grounds
  5. land having a particular characteristiclevel ground; high ground
  6. matter for consideration or debate; field of research or inquirythe lecture was familiar ground to him; the report covered a lot of ground
  7. a position or viewpoint, as in an argument or controversy (esp in the phrases give ground, hold, stand, or shift one's ground)
  8. position or advantage, as in a subject or competition (esp in the phrases gain ground, lose ground, etc)
  9. (often plural) reason; justificationgrounds for complaint
  10. arts
    1. the prepared surface applied to the support of a painting, such as a wall, canvas, etc, to prevent it reacting with or absorbing the paint
    2. the support of a painting
    3. the background of a painting or main surface against which the other parts of a work of art appear superimposed
    1. the first coat of paint applied to a surface
    2. (as modifier)ground colour
  11. the bottom of a river or the sea
  12. (plural) sediment or dregs, esp from coffee
  13. mainly British the floor of a room
  14. cricket
    1. the area from the popping crease back past the stumps, in which a batsman may legally stand
    2. ground staff
  15. See ground bass
  16. a mesh or network supporting the main pattern of a piece of lace
  17. electrical, US and Canadian
    1. a connection between an electrical circuit or device and the earth, which is at zero potential
    2. Also called: eartha terminal to which this connection is made
  18. above ground alive
  19. below ground dead and buried
  20. break new ground to do something that has not been done before
  21. cut the ground from under someone's feet to anticipate someone's action or argument and thus make it irrelevant or meaningless
  22. to the ground or down to the ground British informal completely; absolutelyit suited him down to the ground
  23. get off the ground informal to make a beginning, esp one that is successful
  24. go to ground to go into hiding
  25. into the ground beyond what is requisite or can be endured; to exhaustion
  26. meet someone on his own ground to meet someone according to terms he has laid down himself
  27. the high ground or the moral high ground a position of moral or ethical superiority in a dispute
  28. touch ground
    1. (of a ship) to strike the sea bed
    2. to arrive at something solid or stable after discussing or dealing with topics that are abstract or inconclusive
  29. (modifier) situated on, living on, or used on the groundground frost; ground forces
  30. (modifier) concerned with or operating on the ground, esp as distinct from in the airground crew; ground hostess
  31. (modifier) (used in names of plants) low-growing and often trailing or spreading
  1. (tr) to put or place on the ground
  2. (tr) to instruct in fundamentals
  3. (tr) to provide a basis or foundation for; establish
  4. (tr) to confine (an aircraft, pilot, etc) to the ground
  5. (tr) informal to confine (a child) to the house as a punishment
  6. the usual US word for earth (def. 16)
  7. (tr) nautical to run (a vessel) aground
  8. (tr) to cover (a surface) with a preparatory coat of paint
  9. (intr) to hit or reach the ground

Word Origin for ground

Old English grund; related to Old Norse grunn shallow, grunnr, grund plain, Old High German grunt


  1. the past tense and past participle of grind
  1. having the surface finished, thickness reduced, or an edge sharpened by grinding
  2. reduced to fine particles by grinding


verb breaks, breaking, broke or broken
  1. to separate or become separated into two or more piecesthis cup is broken
  2. to damage or become damaged so as to be inoperativemy radio is broken
  3. to crack or become cracked without separating
  4. to burst or cut the surface of (skin, etc)
  5. to discontinue or become discontinuedthey broke for lunch; to break a journey
  6. to disperse or become dispersedthe clouds broke
  7. (tr) to fail to observe (an agreement, promise, law, etc)to break one's word
  8. (foll by with) to discontinue an association (with)
  9. to disclose or be disclosedhe broke the news gently
  10. (tr) to fracture (a bone) in (a limb, etc)
  11. (tr) to divide (something complete or perfect)to break a set of books
  12. to bring or come to an endthe summer weather broke at last
  13. (tr) to bring to an end by or as if by forceto break a strike
  14. (when intr , often foll by out) to escape (from)he broke jail; he broke out of jail
  15. to weaken or overwhelm or be weakened or overwhelmed, as in spirit
  16. (tr) to cut through or penetratea cry broke the silence
  17. (tr) to improve on or surpassto break a record
  18. (tr often foll by in) to accustom (a horse) to the bridle and saddle, to being ridden, etc
  19. (tr often foll by of) to cause (a person) to give up (a habit)this cure will break you of smoking
  20. (tr) to weaken the impact or force ofthis net will break his fall
  21. (tr) to decipherto break a code
  22. (tr) to lose the order ofto break ranks
  23. (tr) to reduce to poverty or the state of bankruptcy
  24. (when intr , foll by into) to obtain, give, or receive smaller units in exchange for; changeto break a pound note
  25. (tr) mainly military to demote to a lower rank
  26. (intr ; often foll by from or out of) to proceed suddenly
  27. (intr) to come into beinglight broke over the mountains
  28. (intr ; foll by into or out into)
    1. to burst into song, laughter, etc
    2. to change to a faster pace
  29. (tr) to open with explosivesto break a safe
  30. (intr) (of waves)
    1. (often foll by against)to strike violently
    2. to collapse into foam or surf
  31. (intr) (esp of fish) to appear above the surface of the water
  32. (intr) (of the amniotic fluid surrounding an unborn baby) to be released when the amniotic sac ruptures in the first stage of labourher waters have broken
  33. (intr) informal, mainly US to turn out in a specified mannerthings are breaking well
  34. (intr) (of prices, esp stock exchange quotations) to fall sharply
  35. (intr) to make a sudden effort, as in running, horse racing, etc
  36. (intr) cricket (of a ball) to change direction on bouncing
  37. (tr) cricket (of a player) to knock down at least one bail from (a wicket)
  38. (intr) billiards snooker to scatter the balls at the start of a game
  39. (intr) horse racing to commence running in a racethey broke even
  40. (intr) boxing wrestling (of two fighters) to separate from a clinch
  41. (intr) music
    1. (of the male voice) to undergo a change in register, quality, and range at puberty
    2. (of the voice or some instruments) to undergo a change in tone, quality, etc, when changing registers
  42. (intr) phonetics (of a vowel) to turn into a diphthong, esp as a development in the language
  43. (tr) to open the breech of (certain firearms) by snapping the barrel away from the butt on its hinge
  44. (tr) to interrupt the flow of current in (an electrical circuit)Compare make 1 (def. 27)
  45. (intr) informal, mainly US to become successful; make a breakthrough
  46. break bread
    1. to eat a meal, esp with others
    2. Christianityto administer or participate in Holy Communion
  47. break camp to pack up equipment and leave a camp
  48. break ground or break new ground to do something that has not been done before
  49. to overwork or work very hard
  50. break the back of to complete the greatest or hardest part of (a task)
  51. break the bank to ruin financially or deplete the resources of a bank (as in gambling)
  52. break the ice
    1. to relieve shyness or reserve, esp between strangers
    2. to be the first of a group to do something
  53. break the mould to make a change that breaks an established habit, pattern, etc
  54. break service tennis to win a game in which an opponent is serving
  55. break wind to emit wind from the anus
  1. the act or result of breaking; fracture
  2. a crack formed as the result of breaking
  3. a brief respite or interval between two actionsa break from one's toil
  4. a sudden rush, esp to escapeto make a break for freedom
  5. a breach in a relationshipshe has made a break from her family
  6. any sudden interruption in a continuous action
  7. British a short period between classes at schoolUS and Canadian equivalent: recess
  8. informal a fortunate opportunity, esp to prove oneself
  9. informal a piece of (good or bad) luck
  10. (esp in a stock exchange) a sudden and substantial decline in prices
  11. prosody a pause in a line of verse; caesura
  12. billiards snooker
    1. a series of successful shots during one turn
    2. the points scored in such a series
  13. billiards snooker
    1. the opening shot with the cue ball that scatters the placed balls
    2. the right to take this first shot
  14. Also called: service break, break of serve tennis the act or instance of breaking an opponent's service
  15. one of the intervals in a sporting contest
  16. horse racing the start of a racean even break
  17. (in tenpin bowling) failure to knock down all the pins after the second attempt
    1. jazza short usually improvised solo passage
    2. an instrumental passage in a pop song
  18. a discontinuity in an electrical circuit
  19. access to a radio channel by a citizens' band operator
  20. a variant spelling of brake 1 (def. 6)
  1. boxing wrestling a command by a referee for two opponents to separate

Word Origin for break

Old English brecan; related to Old Frisian breka, Gothic brikan, Old High German brehhan, Latin frangere Sanskrit bhráj bursting forth
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

Word Origin and History for break ground



Old English grund "bottom, foundation, ground, surface of the earth," especially "bottom of the sea" (a sense preserved in run aground), from Proto-Germanic *grundus, which seems to have meant "deep place" (cf. Old Frisian, Old Saxon, Danish, Swedish grund, Dutch grond, Old High German grunt, German Grund "ground, soil, bottom;" Old Norse grunn "a shallow place," grund "field, plain," grunnr "bottom"). No known cognates outside Germanic. Sense of "reason, motive" first attested c.1200; electrical sense is from 1870.



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).



c.1300, "act of breaking," from break (v.). Sense of "short interval between spells of work" (originally between lessons at school) is from 1861. Meaning "stroke of luck" is attested by 1911, probably an image from billiards (where the break that starts the game is attested from 1865). Meaning "stroke of mercy" is from 1914. Musical sense, "improvised passage, solo" is attested from 1920s in jazz.



mid-13c., "to put on the ground, to strike down to the ground," from ground (n.). Of ships, "to run into the ground," from mid-15c. Meaning "to base" (an argument, sermon, etc.) is late 14c. Meaning "deny privileges" is 1940s, originally a punishment meted out to pilots (in which sense it is attested from 1930). Related: Grounded; grounding.



"reduced to fine particles by grinding," 1765, past participle adjective from grind.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

break ground in Science


  1. A connection between an electrical conductor and the Earth. Grounds are used to establish a common zero-voltage reference for electric devices in order to prevent potentially dangerous voltages from arising between them and other objects. Also called earth
  2. The set of shared points in an electrical circuit at which the measured voltage is taken to be zero. The ground is usually connected directly to the power supply and acts as a common “sink” for current flowing through the components in the circuit.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with break ground

break ground

Also, break new ground.


Begin digging into the earth for new construction of some kind. For example, When will they break ground for the town hall? This usage alludes to breaking up the land with a plow. [Early 1700s]


Take the first steps for a new venture; advance beyond previous achievements. For example, Jeff is breaking new ground in intellectual property law. [Early 1700s]


In addition to the idioms beginning with break

  • break a leg
  • break away
  • break bread
  • break camp
  • break cover
  • break down
  • break even
  • break ground
  • break in
  • break into
  • break it up
  • break loose
  • break of day
  • break off
  • break one
  • break one's ass
  • break one's back
  • break one's balls
  • break one's fall
  • break one's neck
  • break one's word
  • break out
  • break out of
  • break ranks
  • break someone
  • break someone of something
  • break someone's heart
  • break someone's serve
  • break someone up
  • break the back of
  • break the bank
  • break the ice
  • break the news
  • break the record
  • break through
  • break up
  • break wind
  • break with

also see:

  • get a break
  • give someone a break
  • make a break for it
  • make or break
  • never give a sucker an even break
  • take a break
  • tough break

Also see underbroke.


In addition to the idioms beginning with ground

  • ground floor, get in on the
  • ground rules

also see:

  • both feet on the ground
  • break ground
  • common ground
  • cover ground
  • cover the field (ground)
  • cut the ground from under
  • down to the ground
  • ear to the ground
  • from the ground up
  • gain ground
  • get off the ground
  • give ground
  • happy hunting ground
  • hit the ground running
  • lose ground
  • on one's home ground
  • run into the ground
  • run to earth (ground)
  • stamping ground
  • stand one's ground
  • worship the ground someone walks on
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.