Definition of break something up in English:

break something up

phrasal verb

  • 1Cause something to separate into several pieces, parts, or sections.

    ‘break up the chocolate and place it in a bowl’
    ‘he intends to break the company up into strategic business units’
    • ‘Because the farms were broken up, individuals often found they were given an unproductive section, either with poor soil or without water or with poor access.’
    • ‘He plays a shrewd businessman who buys struggling companies, then breaks them up and sells the pieces.’
    • ‘I broke it up into four sections.’
    • ‘Originally this was one chapter but it got way too long so I'm going to have to break it up into two separate chapters.’
    • ‘The supplements are broken up into five sections.’
    • ‘This will break the page up for the reader and they will be able to get the information they want simply by scanning your pages.’
    • ‘A good idea would be to break it up into sections.’
    • ‘They are packed with detail but it doesn't seem overwhelming because the pages are broken up with masses of superb colour photographs, maps, street-by-street diagrams and drawings.’
    • ‘When it's frozen, bash it gently to break it up into pieces - it should look rough - and put them into tall glasses or pudding bowls.’
    • ‘We broke it up into pieces and sold it.’
    1. 1.1 Cut something up for scrap metal.
      ‘she was towed to Bo'Ness and broken up’
      • ‘Last month such work has also taken place at MacDuff Shipyard in northern Scotland, where three vessels have been broken up as part of the Scottish Executive's controversial decommissioning scheme.’
      • ‘The barge was not broken up as he thought but is still to be seen on the canals and rivers of Yorkshire and beyond.’
    2. 1.2 Disperse or put an end to a gathering.
      ‘police broke up a demonstration in the capital’
      • ‘The police were criticised for not breaking it up and dozens of complaints were made by residents whose sleep was shattered by the music from the rave.’
      • ‘‘They started to fight and I was trying to break them up and I never saw the knife,’ she said.’
      • ‘Fortunately, there had been teachers to break the fight up before anyone had gotten seriously hurt.’
      • ‘On the second day, the gathering was broken up by the police, but not before the charter was adopted as a guiding document.’
      • ‘The fight continued until three teachers came in and broke it up.’
      • ‘‘I'll have to call the police to break it up,’ he answered gravely.’
      • ‘He runs over to the dog fight to try and break it up.’
      • ‘Four security guards entered the fight and broke it up.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, a further protest against the summit was broken up by police.’
      • ‘The protests were broken up by police and militias.’
      disperse, scatter, disband, separate
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    3. 1.3 Cause a relationship to dissolve.
      ‘I'm not going to let you break up my marriage’
      • ‘A move like that would break up the coalition.’
      • ‘Tim had "a severe, chronic problem with alcoholism" which eventually broke the couple up.’
      • ‘I broke up with Bobby the night I got home.’
      • ‘Contrary to the impression Will was giving, breaking up with him was not a decision she'd made lightly or willy-nilly.’
      • ‘In case one of the partners was sold to a distant plantation, the relationship usually broke up.’
      • ‘Only three per cent said they would consider breaking up with someone who did not earn enough.’
      • ‘Jeannine blames him for breaking up her parents ' marriage.’
      • ‘I don't think I could live with myself for being involved in what appears to be a good relationship breaking up.’
      • ‘You'd think they were the ones breaking up.’
      • ‘There was no talk of divorce or of the McGreevy family breaking up.’
      put an end to, bring to an end, destroy, wreck, ruin
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    4. 1.4 Bring a social event or meeting to an end by being the first person to leave.
      ‘Richard was sorry to break up the party’
      • ‘Alright people, sorry to break it up but Kate has an important session to go through right now.’
      • ‘Sorry to break the party up but I need to steal your friend away.’
      • ‘‘I hate to break this party up but Michelle has a class to get back to,’ he told them.’
      put an end to, bring to an end, destroy, wreck, ruin
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