Definition of break up in English:

break up

phrasal verb

  • 1Disintegrate or disperse.

    ‘the grey clouds had begun to break up’
    • ‘Pumps were put on the vessel to keep it afloat so that local boats could try and tow it from the rocks but it began to break up after an hour and a half.’
    • ‘So, as the ice begins to break up on the bay, the bears move closer and closer to the coastline, eating as many seals as they can to store up fat.’
    • ‘The temperature rises to between - 20 and - 40 degrees Celsius, and the ice has not yet begun to break up.’
    • ‘Outside, the rain had stopped, and the clouds were beginning to break up, though inside the barn it remained gloomy.’
    • ‘The rain had stopped and the clouds had begun to break up by the time he woke.’
    • ‘They have identified 85 trouble spots where engineers fear trains could be derailed by tracks that have begun to break up.’
    • ‘One of the workers, Sandile Matshini, tells of his lucky escape when a container in which he was sleeping was pulled up a hill as the ship began breaking up.’
    • ‘The one mass of land began to break up, and the separating continents took with them living cargoes of animals.’
    • ‘Since then, for reasons that are uncertain, this landmass began to break up and the continents gradually moved into the positions they are in today.’
    • ‘Spring in Alaska is often referred to as ‘breakup’ because snow and ice on rivers and lakes begin to melt and break up.’
    1. 1.1(of a gathering or collective) disband; end.
      ‘after about an hour, the meeting broke up’
      • ‘Later he broke up the group and began an influential career as musician.’
      • ‘The meeting broke up without any firm decision being taken, as all members are now to be circulated to ascertain attitudes to the proposed £4,500 charge.’
      • ‘A police mission to break up unruly gangs is beginning to work.’
      • ‘The meeting broke up without reaching an agreement.’
      • ‘Last March, he and other officers broke up a gathering near the scene of the crash.’
      • ‘The police tried to break up any groups that gathered.’
      • ‘Police will also use a Dispersal Order to break up groups of youths loitering on the streets.’
      • ‘The police clearly have orders to break up even the smallest gathering despite the fact that freedom of expression and assembly are constitutionally guaranteed.’
      • ‘The crowd began to break up, flowing down the hall to their classes.’
      • ‘There will even be powers for the police to break up public meetings and gatherings without the need for specific permission from the Home Office or any government minister or department.’
      disperse, scatter, go in different directions, move in different directions, go separate ways, disband, separate, part company
      come to an end, end, finish, stop, terminate
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    2. 1.2British End the school term.
      ‘we broke up for the summer’
      • ‘Schools break up for their half term this Friday, October 22 and return on Tuesday, November 2.’
      • ‘The weekend before school broke up, Emily threw a farewell party for Liz and Steven.’
      • ‘The Lowry should be in a class of its own when the schools break up for half term.’
      • ‘The snow began, school broke up for the Christmas holidays, and she knew she would never be back again.’
      • ‘The school is expected to break up for the summer term today with many students sitting Leaving and Junior Cert exams next week.’
    3. 1.3(of a couple in a relationship) part company.
      ‘I was heartbroken when we broke up’
      • ‘The couple broke up and the stress of life as a single mother pushed her to the brink of a nervous breakdown.’
      • ‘We broke up a week before school ended, and haven't spoken since.’
      • ‘But our relationship soon fell apart and we broke up a couple weeks later.’
      • ‘A story is told of a New York couple who break up, because the husband, Stanley, has informed his wife, Jessie, that for the last year he's been having an affair.’
      • ‘You and Chris broke up once in high school, didn't you?’
      • ‘We broke up a couple of years back and don't talk any more.’
      • ‘‘I was thinking we should break up,’ he stopped and looked at me surprised.’
      • ‘I thought I would be going with my long term boyfriend, but we ended up breaking up after I bought the tickets.’
      • ‘What's the use of going through the elaborate preparations and wedding ceremony, when the couple is going to break up eventually?’
      • ‘I know that when a couple breaks up, they usually don't get back together again.’
      split up, separate, part, stop living together, part company, reach a parting of the ways, become estranged
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    4. 1.4(of a radio or telephone signal) be interrupted by interference.
      • ‘You're breaking up and very crackly.’
      • ‘The radios started to break up, and we lost our encrypted data link.’
      • ‘I found him eventually on an obscure community station that kept breaking up with static and interference from taxi drivers.’
      • ‘You're driving on an empty highway and your radio starts breaking up.’
      • ‘Indoors, more often than not, the signal breaks up when something cuts your invisible tether to the heavens.’
    5. 1.5North American Start laughing uncontrollably.
      ‘the whole cast broke up’
      • ‘There were a couple of times we'd break up laughing when I'd catch someone turning to look at me in a wide shot.’
      • ‘Everybody broke up laughing, according to the police reports - except, of course, Julius.’
      burst out laughing, start to laugh, roar with laughter, dissolve into laughter, shake with laughter, laugh uncontrollably, guffaw, be doubled up, split one's sides, hold one's sides
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    6. 1.6North American Become emotionally upset.