See more synonyms for outbreak on Thesaurus.com
  1. a sudden breaking out or occurrence; eruption: the outbreak of war.
  2. a sudden and active manifestation: an outbreak of hives.
  3. an outburst: an outbreak of temper.
  4. an insurrection, revolt, or mutiny.
  5. a public disturbance; riot.

Origin of outbreak

First recorded in 1595–1605; out- + break
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for outbreak

Contemporary Examples of outbreak

Historical Examples of outbreak

  • While here, Fleeming witnessed the outbreak of the Revolution of 1848, and heard the first shot.

  • This outbreak terminated in a sound between a snarl and a bellow.

  • Instead he hunted up the offended Bacons and apologized for his outbreak.

    The Portygee

    Joseph Crosby Lincoln

  • He had expected some kind of an outbreak––at least a remonstrance from his old friend.

    The Coyote

    James Roberts

  • “Now and then I have an outbreak of this kind,” he added lightly.

    The Greater Power

    Harold Bindloss

British Dictionary definitions for outbreak


  1. a sudden, violent, or spontaneous occurrence, esp of disease or strife
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 outbreak

"eruption" (of disease, hostilities, etc.), c.1600, from out + break (v.). Outbreak was a verb in Middle English (c.1300).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper