reckless or dangerous, especially because of excessive speed; hazardous: He raced through the streets at breakneck speed.

Origin of breakneck

First recorded in 1555–65; break + neck Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for breakneck

Contemporary Examples of breakneck

Historical Examples of breakneck

  • God send, at least, it might be Marius who rode thus, at such a breakneck pace.

    St. Martin's Summer

    Rafael Sabatini

  • But there was more than blankets in the buggy that came up at breakneck speed.

  • The illusion was that of plunging earthward at breakneck speed.

  • Straight down you go, no matter of how breakneck a character the declivity may be.

    Northern Travel

    Bayard Taylor

  • Along the Inca road the little party hurried at breakneck speed.

    The Inca Emerald

    Samuel Scoville

British Dictionary definitions for breakneck



(prenominal) (of speed, pace, etc) excessive and dangerous
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 breakneck

1560s, "likely to end in a broken neck," from break (v.) + neck (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper