View synonyms for breakthrough


[ breyk-throo ]


  1. a military movement or advance all the way through and beyond an enemy's frontline defense.
  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Medicine/Medical. an infection, disease, disorder, or condition that occurs in an individual despite their having received a vaccine, medication, or treatment:

    Covid breakthroughs are usually less severe than infections in unvaccinated people, indicating that the vaccine is still doing its job of combating the virus.


  1. constituting a breakthrough: Critics called it a breakthrough film.

    Their products are engineered with breakthrough technology.

    Critics called it a breakthrough film.

  2. Medicine/Medical. relating to or being an infection, disease, disorder, or condition that occurs as a breakthrough: She experienced disabling breakthrough pain despite the high dose of painkillers she was taking.

    In the original vaccine trial, 89% of breakthrough infections were with a particular family of virus strains.

    She experienced disabling breakthrough pain despite the high dose of painkillers she was taking.

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Word History and Origins

Origin of breakthrough1

First recorded in 1915–20; noun use of verb phrase break through
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Example Sentences

It takes a level of commitment to breakthrough authentically.

From Digiday

At the same time, though, under Cook’s stewardship, Apple has largely failed to come up with breakthrough successors to the iPhone.

From Fortune

Lowe’s made big breakthroughs in the second quarter in markets where it has long lagged Home Depot, most notably the professional contract market and city stores.

From Fortune

The finding marks a major breakthrough in a search of almost 20 years, carried out in particle physics labs all over the world.

The key to the breakthrough was a two-fold increase in the ground stations’ ability to collect entangled photons.

After 18 months of secret talks, the president announces a diplomatic breakthrough that ends the last fight of the Cold War.

While many today lament that iPhones and iPads have become almost extra limbs, for Hockney they were a breakthrough for his art.

But the option of replacing a new diplomatic breakthrough with open-ended diplomatic muddle-through is not on the table.

And so, in a lesser-known breakthrough, Edison went on to build the first electrical power station and system.

After all, the 1972 breakthrough with China is a huge moment.

Nevertheless, the two scientists were jubilant at this first breakthrough.

A breakthrough in the use of colour lead to the hey day of romanticism and preparation for neo-impressionism.

Sometimes a major breakthrough is achieved when the leaders are willing to be vulnerable.

The required air current shall be conducted to the breakthrough nearest the face of such entry or room.

No person shall place refuse in, or obstruct any airway or breakthrough used as an airway.





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