[verb in-tuh-ruhpt; noun in-tuh-ruhpt]

verb (used with object)

to cause or make a break in the continuity or uniformity of (a course, process, condition, etc.).
to break off or cause to cease, as in the middle of something: He interrupted his work to answer the bell.
to stop (a person) in the midst of doing or saying something, especially by an interjected remark: May I interrupt you to comment on your last remark?

verb (used without object)

to cause a break or discontinuance; interfere with action or speech, especially by interjecting a remark: Please don't interrupt.


Computers. a hardware signal that breaks the flow of program execution and transfers control to a predetermined storage location so that another procedure can be followed or a new operation carried out.

Origin of interrupt

1375–1425; late Middle English interrupten < Latin interruptus past participle of interrumpere to break apart, equivalent to inter- inter- + rup-, variant stem of rumpere to burst + -tus past participle suffix; see rupture
Related formsin·ter·rupt·ed·ly, adverbin·ter·rupt·ed·ness, nounin·ter·rupt·i·ble, adjectivein·ter·rup·tive, adjectivenon·in·ter·rupt·i·ble, adjectivenon·in·ter·rup·tive, adjectivere·in·ter·rupt, verbself-in·ter·rupt·ing, adjectiveun·in·ter·rupt·i·ble, adjectiveun·in·ter·rupt·ing, adjectiveun·in·ter·rup·tive, adjective

Synonyms for interrupt

1, 3. intermit. Interrupt, discontinue, suspend imply breaking off something temporarily or permanently. Interrupt may have either meaning: to interrupt a meeting. To discontinue is to stop or leave off, often permanently: to discontinue a building program. To suspend is to break off relations, operations, proceedings, privileges, etc., for a certain period of time, usually with the stipulation that they will be resumed at a stated time: to suspend operations during a strike.

Antonyms for interrupt

1, 2. continue. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for interrupt

Contemporary Examples of interrupt

Historical Examples of interrupt

  • I am loth to interrupt you, Clary; though you could more than once break in upon me.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • The Inspector did not interrupt his work, but answered with the utmost good nature.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • Yet for some time Nicias made no attempt to interrupt its progress.

  • Miss Whitmore, you will observe, had learned to interrupt when she had anything to say.

  • The story was not yet finished; but George's impatience caused him to interrupt it.

    Biographical Stories

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

British Dictionary definitions for interrupt



to break the continuity of (an action, event, etc) or hinder (a person) by intrusion
(tr) to cease to perform (some action)
(tr) to obstruct (a view)
to prevent or disturb (a conversation, discussion, etc) by questions, interjections, or comment


the signal to initiate the stopping of the running of one computer program in order to run another, after which the running of the original program is usually continued
Derived Formsinterruptible, adjectiveinterruptive, adjectiveinterruptively, adverb

Word Origin for interrupt

C15: from Latin interrumpere, from inter- + rumpere to break
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 interrupt

c.1400, "to interfere with a legal right," from Latin interruptus, past participle of interrumpere "break apart, break off," from inter- "between" (see inter-) + rumpere "to break" (see rupture (n.), and compare corrupt). Meaning "to break into (a speech, etc.)" is early 15c. Related: Interrupted; interrupting.


1957, originally in computers, from interupt (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper