verb (used without object), col·lapsed, col·laps·ing.

verb (used with object), col·lapsed, col·laps·ing.

to cause to collapse: He collapsed the table easily.


a falling in or together: Three miners were trapped by the collapse of the tunnel roof.
a sudden, complete failure; breakdown: The bribery scandal brought about the complete collapse of his industrial empire.

Origin of collapse

1725–35; < Latin collāpsus (past participle of collābī to fall, fall in ruins), equivalent to col- col-1 + lāp-, variant stem of lābī to fall + -sus, variant of -tus past participle ending
Related formspre·col·lapse, verb, pre·col·lapsed, pre·col·laps·ing.un·col·lapsed, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for collapse

Contemporary Examples of collapse

Historical Examples of collapse

  • The music is lost, but the libretto survives, and that is enough to account for the collapse.


    Edward J. Dent

  • He was 65 feet up in the air when the collapse occurred, resulting in his death.

    Flying Machines

    W.J. Jackman and Thos. H. Russell

  • You would rather witness the collapse of everything, you said.

  • When she reached the corner she stopped, and seemed about to collapse.

    The Avenger

    E. Phillips Oppenheim

  • She closed her eyes and swayed slightly, but she did not collapse or give way.


    Joseph C. Lincoln

British Dictionary definitions for collapse



(intr) to fall down or cave in suddenlythe whole building collapsed
(intr) to fail completelyhis story collapsed on investigation
(intr) to break down or fall down from lack of strength
to fold (furniture, etc) compactly or (of furniture, etc) to be designed to fold compactly


the act or instance of suddenly falling down, caving in, or crumbling
a sudden failure or breakdown
Derived Formscollapsible or collapsable, adjectivecollapsibility or collapsability, noun

Word Origin for collapse

C18: from Latin collāpsus, from collābī to fall in ruins, from lābī to fall
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 collapse

1732, from Latin collapsus, past participle of collabi "fall together," from com- "together" (see com-) + labi "to fall, slip" (see lapse (n.)). The adjective collapsed is attested from c.1600, from Latin collapsus, and perhaps this suggested a verb. Related: Collapsing.


1801, from collapse (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

collapse in Medicine




To break down suddenly in strength or health and thereby fall into a condition of extreme prostration.
To fall together or inward suddenly.


A condition of extreme prostration.
A falling together of the walls of a structure.
The failure of a physical system.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.