Definition of break something down in English:

break something down

phrasal verb

  • 1Demolish a door or other barrier.

    ‘they had to get the police to break the door down’
    figurative ‘geographic barriers can be broken down by the Internet’
    • ‘When two men inside refused to open the door, police broke it down.’
    • ‘‘They had to break the door down to get her out,’ said Diana.’
    • ‘Eventually the police managed to break the door down, carry her out and bring her here to spend the night.’
    • ‘The ‘see me’ campaign has been funded by the Scottish health department to break down negative attitudes towards mental health problems.’
    • ‘On other occasions thieves have rammed the doors with a vehicle to gain entry and tried to break down the back door with an axe.’
    • ‘No one was in the premises when police broke the door down, and detectives were today making further inquiries.’
    • ‘Firemen then broke his door down and he was led to safety, the court was told.’
    • ‘One group of firefighters broke the inner door down and other firefighters were hoisted up to the balcony to fight the fire from two sides.’
    • ‘They have both agreed to come and tell their personal stories in the hope of breaking down some of the taboos that surround mental health.’
    • ‘I don't remember much after that, they told me my dad broke the door down and then called an ambulance.’
    knock down, kick down, stave in, smash in, pull down, tear down, demolish, destroy
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  • 2Separate something into a number of parts.

    ‘each tutorial is broken down into more manageable units’
    • ‘They broke it down into separate categories such as ‘moral authority’ and ‘crisis leadership.’’
    • ‘Fortunately, the report breaks the statistics down into highly specific segments which are informative and very useful.’
    • ‘My nervousness is coming back, but the instructors break down the driving into fairly foolproof bites.’
    • ‘The human body is not a machine and its malfunctioning cannot be adequately analysed by breaking the system down into its component parts and considering each in isolation.’
    • ‘The scientific management method consisted of breaking down a business process into component activities.’
    • ‘I break the stroke down into its many components, train those components as separate entities, then put it back together to train for timing.’
    • ‘He breaks down the recording process into the simplest of terms.’
    • ‘To do it, you have to break the whole operation down into separate, understandable, manageable components.’
    • ‘The 160 House members and 39 senators essentially break down into three groups.’
    • ‘They are made up of 6-10 units that break your job down into separate functions that reflect the different things you do in your job.’
    divide, separate
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    1. 2.1 Analyse information.
      ‘bar graphs show how the information can be broken down’
      • ‘And one suspects that if the survey results were broken down by geographic region, it would be even less divisive in many red states.’
      • ‘However, the figures are not broken down by race.’
      • ‘It also sets out no guidelines on whether votes will be broken down by constituency or nation.’
      • ‘But that changes when survey respondents are broken down by race.’
      • ‘This year's national results were broken down by gender for the first time and showed that 54 per cent of entries were from women and 46 per cent from men.’
      • ‘Although this is proper, basic financial reports don't break the data down into information that will show you the true picture of your company or of a specific job.’
      • ‘It is a similar picture when the detailed results are broken down by political party.’
      • ‘It is one of the best in 20 years, and, if we analyse it and break it down, we will understand that better.’
      • ‘However, when the sample is broken down by age, there is a shift in the frequencies for bones from juvenile individuals.’
      • ‘Statistical groups are broken down by age, sex, race and geographic location.’
      analyse, categorize, classify, sort out, itemize, organize
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    2. 2.2 Convert a substance into simpler compounds by chemical action.
      ‘almost every natural substance can be broken down by bacteria’
      • ‘Proteins are broken down into amino acids and fats are broken down into fatty acids.’
      • ‘The venom is broken down by heat.’
      • ‘When starches and refined sugars are eaten together and undergo fermentation they are broken down into carbon dioxide, acetic acid, alcohol and water.’
      • ‘When carbohydrates are digested, they are broken down into sugar molecules, which are then absorbed into the bloodstream, leading to an increase in blood-glucose levels.’
      • ‘Currently insulin cannot be taken in a pill because the hormone is broken down by powerful acids in the stomach.’
      • ‘A small amount of the sucrose is broken down into glucose.’
      • ‘In most instances, whey proteins can be broken down by heat.’
      • ‘Complex chemical units are broken down into more simple substances.’
      • ‘These loosely bonded and larger molecules are broken down into smaller molecules.’
      • ‘Eventually, all organisms are broken down by bacteria into nutrients that return to the environment.’