[ breyk-doun ]
See synonyms for breakdown on
  1. a breaking down, wearing out, or sudden loss of ability to function efficiently, as of a machine.

  2. a loss of mental or physical health; collapse.: Compare nervous breakdown.

  1. an analysis or classification of something; division into parts, categories, processes, etc.

  2. Chemistry.

  3. Electricity. an electric discharge passing through faulty insulation or other material used to separate circuits or passing between electrodes in a vacuum or gas-filled tube.

  4. a noisy, lively folk dance.

Origin of breakdown

First recorded in 1825–35; noun use of verb phrase break down

Words Nearby breakdown Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use breakdown in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for break down

break down

  1. (intr) to cease to function; become ineffective: communications had broken down

  2. to yield or cause to yield, esp to strong emotion or tears: she broke down in anguish

  1. (tr) to crush or destroy

  2. (intr) to have a nervous breakdown

  3. to analyse or be subjected to analysis

  4. to separate or cause to separate into simpler chemical elements; decompose

  5. (tr) NZ to saw (a large log) into planks

  6. break it down Australian and NZ informal

    • stop it

    • don't expect me to believe that; come off it

  1. an act or instance of breaking down; collapse

  1. an analysis or classification of something into its component parts: he prepared a breakdown of the report

  2. the sudden electrical discharge through an insulator or between two electrodes in a vacuum or gas discharge tube

  3. electrical engineering the sudden transition, dependent on the bias magnitude, from a high to a low dynamic resistance in a semiconductor device

  4. a lively American country dance

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with breakdown


Demolish, destroy, either physically or figuratively, as in The carpenters broke down the partition between the bedrooms, or The governor's speeches broke down the teachers' opposition to school reform. [Late 1300s]

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