[ breyk-throo ]
/ ˈbreɪkˌθru /


a military movement or advance all the way through and beyond an enemy's front-line defense.
an act or instance of removing or surpassing an obstruction or restriction; the overcoming of a stalemate: The president reported a breakthrough in the treaty negotiations.
any significant or sudden advance, development, achievement, or increase, as in scientific knowledge or diplomacy, that removes a barrier to progress: The jet engine was a major breakthrough in air transport.


constituting a breakthrough: engineered with breakthrough technology; Critics called it a breakthrough film.

Nearby words

  1. breakout,
  2. breakover,
  3. breakpoint,
  4. breakroom,
  5. breakspear, nicholas,
  6. breaktime,
  7. breakup,
  8. breakwater,
  9. breakweather,
  10. bream

Origin of breakthrough

First recorded in 1915–20; noun use of verb phrase break through Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for breakthrough

Word Origin and History for breakthrough



1918, in a military sense, from break (v.) + through (adv.). The verbal phrase is attested from c.1400. Meaning "abrupt solution or progress" is from 1930s, on the notion of a successful attack.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper