or break-off

[ breyk-awf, ‐of ]
/ ˈbreɪkˌɔf, ‐ˌɒf /


a discontinuation, especially abrupt, as of relations.
the action of breaking off.

Origin of breakoff

First recorded in 1860–65; noun use of verb break off (in the sense “to stop sudddenly”)

Definition for break off (2 of 2)

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



brake break

synonym study for break

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. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for break off (1 of 2)

break off


to sever or detach or be severed or detachedit broke off in my hands; he broke a piece off the bar of chocolate
(adverb) to end (a relationship, association, etc) or (of a relationship, etc) to be ended
(intr, adverb) to stop abruptly; halthe broke off in the middle of his speech

noun breakoff

the act or an instance of breaking off or stopping

British Dictionary definitions for break off (2 of 2)

/ (breɪk) /

verb breaks, breaking, broke or broken



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

Idioms and Phrases with break off (1 of 2)

break off


Stop abruptly, as in The trade talks broke off yesterday. [First half of 1300s]


Separate, sever a connection, as in The baby broke off the tops of all the flowers, or The new sect has broken off from the established church. [First half of 1500s]


End a relationship or friendship, as in Mary broke off her engagement to Rob. [Mid-1600s]

Idioms and Phrases with break off (2 of 2)


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.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.