Definition of breakdown in English:



  • 1A mechanical failure.

    ‘breakdowns could totally disrupt production’
    • ‘Like most companies, Rambus backs up its e-mail servers as a hedge against a catastrophic system breakdown.’
    • ‘This lack of foresight caused numerous mechanical breakdowns.’
    • ‘Most of the contenders in the JWRC suffered mechanical breakdowns, punctures or accidents.’
    • ‘We're back-after an absence of three weeks, due to a mechanical breakdown of the printing press and an industrial dispute involving chapels of the printing unions.’
    • ‘He worked on the construction of the London Eye, and was also part of a retained team of rescuers who would have been called to the attraction in the event of a mechanical breakdown or terrorist threat.’
    • ‘Clacton Leisure Centre cleared the swimming pool on Friday after a mechanical breakdown.’
    • ‘As a side note, beware of mechanical breakdowns this week, especially on Tuesday.’
    • ‘With the weather on his side and no mechanical breakdowns, it will be a good harvest.’
    • ‘A computer systems breakdown was like the straw that broke the camel's back.’
    • ‘There would be system breakdown, the business would lose direction, and employees would be overcome by lethargy.’
    • ‘The disadvantage is that the line between terminals and the computer centre is, of course, subject to mechanical disturbances and breakdowns.’
    • ‘The gravel began to gouge holes in the hard rubber tires of the trucks, and the bumpier rides that resulted led to an increase in the number of mechanical breakdowns.’
    • ‘Accidents result from breakdowns in the mechanisms that practitioners use to anticipate, detect, and bridge gaps.’
    • ‘There can be no guarantee, not least because mechanical breakdowns happen from time to time, and perhaps even gradually.’
    • ‘Some mechanical breakdowns could be avoided if drivers properly inspected the buses before they begin their routes, as required by federal law, Scanlon said.’
    • ‘In the harsh environment of space, however, satellites may fail prematurely because of mechanical breakdowns, damage from solar flares, or collisions with orbiting debris.’
    • ‘Trash dumps, space fights, or mechanical breakdowns could all leave various sized pieces of often-viable space junk floating around.’
    • ‘It is, after all, free information usable for blackmail, theft or provoking a crippling system breakdown.’
    • ‘Our six-game block was starting earlier than usual because of a schedule change, but our day of bowling was delayed because of a mechanical breakdown.’
    • ‘But the diagram would also assume a lot: no stuck buttons or mechanical breakdowns, and no frustrated residents walking down the hall late at night and dumping all their waste without sorting it.’
    malfunction, failure, seizing up
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  • 2A failure of a relationship or system.

    ‘a breakdown in military discipline’
    ‘a communications breakdown’
    mass noun ‘some of these women will have experienced marital breakdown’
    • ‘‘You formed a grudge as a result of the breakdown in the relationship,’ he said.’
    • ‘The situation within the company is described as a complete breakdown in the relationship between the parties, a deadlock and a hostile environment.’
    • ‘This in turn can lead to prejudice and a breakdown in community relationships.’
    • ‘It is not a case of her not getting her own way at home, there is obviously a breakdown in her relationship with her mother because of her mother's new partner.’
    • ‘But even if the collection Scheme does become operational there is already a breakdown in the communication system that would have helped to make it more efficient.’
    • ‘The breakdown in our relationship with God needs to be dealt with first.’
    • ‘If there's a breakdown in the parent-child relationship, an escalating game of cat and mouse involving the phone could escalate.’
    • ‘The result is a pattern of estrangement that can lead to a damaging breakdown in relationships.’
    • ‘There was a complete systems failure, and a complete breakdown in relations and cooperation between the FBI and CIA.’
    • ‘The town of Katima Mulilo was reported to have faced power failures and a breakdown in communications due to land lines having been affected by the rain.’
    • ‘His father was furious to think that his son had been rated as his equal and this resulted in a breakdown in relationships between the two.’
    • ‘So it is not just about a breakdown in the relationship causing questions of competence or questions of the value of the legal work that's being done, it's about predatory nature of lawyers.’
    • ‘If a sibling put me in this situation, I would be incredibly resentful and probably wouldn't care if my choices caused a breakdown in our relationship.’
    • ‘Do you feel responsible at all for the breakdown in the relationship with the media?’
    • ‘After 2,600 words of this self-pity, Henderson is willing to take some blame for the breakdown in their relationship.’
    • ‘More specifically, the test is whether the employee's dishonesty gave rise to a breakdown in the employment relationship.’
    • ‘It's wrong to let them off the hook altogether and only blame the managers, the systems and a breakdown in communications.’
    • ‘Professional disagreements can sometimes accentuate personal differences leading to a breakdown in working relationships - with a serious impact on patient care.’
    • ‘Sometimes it's simply a problem of a breakdown in communications or a lack of understanding about the systems.’
    • ‘The course is designed to assist people who are separated and help them meet other people who have experienced a breakdown in a relationship.’
    failure, collapse, disintegration, foundering, falling through
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    1. 2.1 A sudden collapse in someone's mental health.
      ‘Heather had a breakdown following the death of her sister’
      • ‘I assume they wanted to see me have a mental breakdown.’
      • ‘As one who has shot her mouth off while in the throes of a mental breakdown, I'm not sure I'm qualified to answer that truthfully.’
      • ‘The matching of two combatants with a history of cheating and mental breakdowns, however, just doesn't serve to fill anyone with much faith that a fair, clean finale will end matters on Friday evening.’
      • ‘Frontline troops are finding their tours of duty extended, causing huge morale problems and an epidemic of breakdowns and mental health problems.’
      • ‘I think my management and my lawyer are both having mental breakdowns.’
      • ‘This is what eventually led to his mental breakdown and the deaths of many of the heads of Britain.’
      • ‘Family and friends said that the past few years have been very troubling for her as she had suffered from many mental breakdowns and remained a virtual recluse.’
      • ‘And she had a basic breakdown of her nervous system.’
      • ‘Two mental breakdowns appeared to accelerate the decline in his one good eye, yet he has an awesome visual memory.’
      • ‘I ended up having a mental breakdown about 9 hours before the exam and managed a C for that subject.’
      • ‘In fact, the house brought me close to a mental breakdown.’
      • ‘I have wondered, with no small degree of guilt, if we contributed to her mental breakdown.’
      • ‘Depression had a grip he admitted, and his problems were compounded by the stigma towards mental health and mental breakdown.’
      • ‘He's gotten over all the deaths, mental breakdowns, and abandonment he used to obsess over, and now the angst in his lyrics seems to be more a matter of commercial necessity than deeply felt personal expression.’
      • ‘He resigned because of ill health and in 1889 suffered a mental breakdown from which he never properly recovered.’
      • ‘Suicide, self-harm and mental breakdowns happen all the time.’
      • ‘Though there was enough food and water on board to sustain her, she was on the verge of a mental breakdown and wouldn't eat.’
      • ‘When she disappeared for three years, rumours circulated that she had suffered a mental breakdown and her reputation as a mysterious recluse was forged.’
      • ‘It charts the decline and subsequent recovery of the then 19-year-old author, hospitalised in the late 1960s because of a mental breakdown.’
      • ‘For he presents evidence showing that emotional breakdown after a tragedy is the exception, not the rule.’
      nervous breakdown, collapse, mental collapse
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  • 3The chemical or physical decomposition of something.

    ‘the breakdown of ammonia to nitrites’
    • ‘It can also be formed by oxidative deoxyribose breakdown or autoxidation of sugars, such as glucose, and it plays a role in the pathophysiology of diabetes and ageing.’
    • ‘Holes in the ozone layer, or a global breakdown of stratospheric ozone would lead to increasing doses of ultraviolet radiation at the Earth's surface.’
    • ‘The role of fermentative microbes is mainly in the partial breakdown of organic molecules that then serve as nutrients for the sulfate reducers and the methanogens.’
    • ‘Decomposition is the breakdown of these organisms, and the release of nutrients back into the environment, and is one of the most important roles of the bacteria.’
    • ‘Malondialdehyde, formed from the breakdown of polyunsaturated fatty acids, serves as a convenient index for determining the extent of the peroxidation reaction.’
    • ‘Some water supplies (mostly ponds and streams) contain some natural organic chemicals from the breakdown of plants and leaves.’
    • ‘Catabolism is the breakdown of complex molecules into simpler constituents, usually with the release of energy.’
    • ‘Over thousands to millions of years, the physical breakdown and chemical weathering of volcanic rocks have formed some of the most fertile soils on Earth.’
    • ‘Chemical degradation is the breakdown of pesticides by processes that do not involve living organisms.’
    • ‘These are formed during the oxidative breakdown of food.’
    • ‘But they slow mental deterioration by blocking the breakdown of the brain chemical acetylcholine.’
    • ‘The breakdown of polymeric sugars begins in the mouth.’
    • ‘Catabolic processes such as solubilization and breakdown of cell wall polymers dominate in this situation, although there are reports of new cell wall synthesis also occurring.’
    • ‘These fish suffer from immune system breakdown, infections, open sores, muscle loss and brain destruction.’
    • ‘Where tobacco tissue was subjected to extended incubation in the dark, accumulated transgenic levan did not breakdown.’
    • ‘All of them block the breakdown of a brain chemical called acetylcholine that is important in memory and other intellectual functions.’
    • ‘The breakdown of the polymer coating is heat unit related, not triggered directly by temperature.’
    • ‘Micrite can precipitate from seawater or form from the breakdown of larger carbonate grains.’
    • ‘Such strong inbreeding depression could explain the maintenance of SI systems where breakdown would be expected.’
    • ‘A complete set of hydrolytic enzymes is designed for chemical processing and breakdown of most large molecules in the diet.’
    separation, division, break-up
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    1. 3.1 An explanatory analysis, especially of statistics.
      ‘a detailed cost breakdown’
      • ‘The zoo's annual report, published yesterday, did not give a detailed breakdown of the €5 million running costs incurred during the year.’
      • ‘In the five chapters which have tables showing the incidence of consumer or producer goods, however, the authors only allow breakdown by wealth in one of them.’
      • ‘The figures published by the Office for National Statistics give details of the total populations with age and gender breakdowns for all local authorities.’
      • ‘The report from the Office for National Statistics gave a detailed breakdown of population trends using statistics taken from the 2001 Census.’
      • ‘We'll offer analysis and statistical breakdowns, more photos, more of everything.’
      • ‘Under another new directive, all products containing any allergens must include details of their chemical breakdown.’
      • ‘A breakdown of the statistics by police division shows that Port-of-Spain remains the most dangerous district in the country.’
      • ‘The country-by-country breakdown clearly shows how widespread missile proliferation has become.’
      • ‘Like a naturopath taking a strand of hair and doing a complete cellular, system breakdown you have taken this tawdry, endless, episode and have done a fair and complete diagnosis.’
      • ‘The costing section provides the solicitor with a final MLSS invoice with a detailed breakdown of costs in respect of the work undertaken by the claims manger when a case settles.’
      • ‘Without categorizing attacks through all possible demographic breakdowns, the analysis of terrorism in general remains flawed.’
      • ‘Only 1 other investigator provided a more comprehensive analysis of cost breakdown per cost center.’
      • ‘It also gives a detailed breakdown of costs to distributors and compares this to the selling prices.’
      • ‘If you look at the authoritative breakdown of the casualty figures produced by the International Policy Institute for Counter Terrorism in Herzliya, a rather different picture emerges.’
      • ‘To support this premise, the following analysis looks at a breakdown of logistics costs as they relate to wholesale cost.’
      • ‘Howard provides details of the 1945 manifestos of the three main parties, and a breakdown of electoral statistics.’
      • ‘Ask for a detailed breakdown of programme costs.’
      • ‘We establish open book costing right from the get-go and ask suppliers to provide detailed cost breakdowns.’
      • ‘The task group also want a breakdown and analysis of how many ethnic minority workers have been successful after applying for jobs at the council.’
      • ‘The developers have not provided a breakdown of the restoration costs which would enable a conventional assessment to be made.’
      analysis, classification, categorization, itemization, dissection
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