Definition of collapse in English:



  • 1(of a structure) suddenly fall down or give way.

    ‘the roof collapsed on top of me’
    • ‘The barn was engulfed in flames by the time firefighters arrived on the scene and the structure eventually collapsed.’
    • ‘We can be reminded of the horror and the technical horror of these great structures collapsing.’
    • ‘The structure suddenly collapsed, sending lecturer and papers sprawling.’
    • ‘‘The danger is that the broken piece could cause the whole structure to collapse on nearby buildings,’ said one fire officer.’
    • ‘However, only a very small segment of the affected structure collapsed, approximately half an hour after impact.’
    • ‘The walls of the Kingdom started to crumble and collapse, huge pieces falling down onto the helpless Elves.’
    • ‘It tasted very good, but it ended up looking like a big mess, the layers collapsed and the structure was lost.’
    • ‘Mr Chipungu said in an interview in Lusaka that due to weak culverts, the bridge, which connects Luangwa to the rest of the country, was caving in and might collapse any time.’
    • ‘Suddenly, the hallway wall fell and collapsed into the entrance of the cafeteria.’
    • ‘A person might point out a building and report they knew a family member was in a certain room on a certain floor when the structure collapsed.’
    • ‘I'm not an engineer, I don't have a total grasp of airflow, but if a building is collapsing it creates a tremendous pressure below, pressing the air out.’
    • ‘The roof had collapsed on top of him, Saki had tried to get him out, but couldn't.’
    • ‘Eye witness reports said part of the roofing structure collapsed onto a walkway which in turn buckled, causing the disaster.’
    • ‘The structure collapsed in a cloud of dust and debris.’
    • ‘There, sandwiched between a hairdresser and a mobile phone shop, is the long-abandoned Irish Alamo, with its roof collapsing and its walls falling in.’
    • ‘If weak foundations cause a structure to collapse, the strengthening of that foundation is needed before a new structure can be erected.’
    • ‘With little or no maintenance in a half-century, the structures are collapsing.’
    • ‘He said he had conflicting reports of what had happened to his father in the fire. He might have fallen through a burning floor or the roof might have collapsed on him.’
    • ‘But by the 15th row, if the bricks are not perfectly lined up, the whole structure will collapse.’
    • ‘And 1,884 school buildings collapsed and 11,761 structures were damaged.’
    cave in, fall in, subside, fall down, sag, slump, settle, give, give way, crumble, crumple, disintegrate, fall to pieces, come apart
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    1. 1.1[with object]Cause (something) to fall down or give way.
      ‘it feels as if the slightest pressure would collapse it’
      figurative ‘many people tend to collapse the distinction between the two concepts’
      • ‘Kavanagh was again on target on 33 minutes when Navan were penalised for collapsing a scrum after an extended period of Portlaoise pressure.’
      • ‘Issuing a message to unionists, he also urged them against alienating nationalists by collapsing the devolved institutions.’
      • ‘The effect would be a level of military involvement that would serve to collapse the distinction between inspection and invasion/occupation.’
      • ‘Or the pressure could collapse the hole altogether.’
      • ‘They had to row for their lives: as the sub exploded, collapsing the viaduct, debris showered upon them.’
      • ‘Hundreds of male onlookers surged forward, collapsing the barriers all along the race track.’
      • ‘It is improbable that a timetable for decommissioning would be enough to prevent him from resigning as First Minister and collapsing the executive.’
      • ‘The background is the super-exposed town of Shishmaref in Western Alaska, where global warming and the thawing permafrost are collapsing towns in on themselves.’
      • ‘All in all, though, thanks for collapsing whole categories of moral and political thought.’
      • ‘They swarm across the planet like locusts, stripping environments bare and collapsing fragile economies.’
      • ‘Vicky Lee Wei Kay collapses technology across more than 12 time zones and three languages.’
      • ‘The UK government's attempt to collapse the distinction between parenting and teaching is not entirely new.’
      • ‘With Realia, Aitken has taken on a daunting task, collapsing Greek myth, Japanese pop culture and a stream-of-consciousness rhythm into one book.’
      • ‘By choosing to exhibit the heroin along side this footage Furmage collapses the spectacle of art with the spectacle of crime.’
      • ‘Aging, childbirth and weight gain relax the muscles and the fascia encasing them, collapsing the rim of the aperture.’
      • ‘After a textbook start, they took an early lead when Toulouse were penalised for collapsing the maul and Drahm kicked the subsequent penalty.’
      • ‘In her installation, Kennedy re-examines this hierarchy by collapsing any clear definition between humans and their natural counterparts.’
      • ‘The most controversial moment of the afternoon had come however in the first half when English referee Chris Rees had awarded a penalty try when he penalised the home side for collapsing the maul.’
      • ‘The abstract nature of the work collapses many traditional boundaries.’
      • ‘The prime minister may have to choose soon between staying in power as a lame duck or pressing ahead with disengagement by collapsing the government, which is opposed to the plan.’
    2. 1.2(of a lung or blood vessel) fall inwards and become flat and empty.
      ‘a collapsed lung’
      • ‘The operation was long and difficult and Emily spent four weeks in hospital undergoing physiotherapy because her lungs had collapsed.’
      • ‘He then fell ill with pneumonia and died after a lung collapsed and he suffered kidney failure.’
      • ‘He had sustained a penetrating bullet wound to his chest on the right side. Air had rushed into his chest and his right lung collapsed.’
      • ‘Miraculously, Cobb survived a torn aorta, torn diaphragm, collapsed left lung and kidney failure.’
      • ‘The first goal can usually be achieved by using PEEP to recruit and stabilize previously collapsed lung tissue.’
      • ‘She had a ruptured liver, one collapsed lung, one punctured lung, broken ribs and broken collar bone as well as the huge gash in her back and other injuries.’
      • ‘A posterolateral thoracotomy was performed and the chest was entered through the fifth interspace, with the left lung collapsed.’
      • ‘Then they realized he had a bullet lodged between his heart and collapsed lung.’
      • ‘And in fact, there is evidence that the jugular vein has collapsed.’
      • ‘IP is in hospital - collapsed lung, broken ribs, swelling & bruising.’
      • ‘The fabric was sodden, but the bleeding had ceased, perhaps the vein had collapsed.’
      • ‘RSPCA officers and the rescue volunteers then spent much of the day trying to keep the whale upright to stop its lungs collapsing.’
      • ‘It was there he began forging prescriptions to supply himself with the painkiller pethidine, which he injected for six months to the point where his veins collapsed.’
      • ‘They showed that in the emphysematous lung, the airways collapsed early in expiration and trapped expired air.’
      • ‘He survived the accident for a week and was recovering from two operations on a broken pelvis when he contracted an infection and his lungs collapsed.’
      • ‘Thereafter, a continuing rise in inflation pressure with volume opened the flooded and collapsed lung abruptly.’
      • ‘What is not so good is the fact that, due to extensive chemotherapy, my veins have all collapsed.’
      • ‘Surfactant helps to keep the baby's alveoli open; without surfactant, the lungs collapse and the baby is unable to breathe.’
      • ‘But in some cases cats' lungs collapse or their ribs fracture due to difficulty breathing.’
      • ‘Her lungs collapsed, her skull was fractured, and she had lost the vision in her left eye.’
    3. 1.3[with object]Cause (a lung or blood vessel) to collapse.
      ‘he had an operation to collapse his lung’
      • ‘The left lung was collapsed and superiorly encased by tumor.’
      • ‘The amount of pressure to collapse the airway is six times greater.’
      • ‘Medical tests have established that the amount of pressure needed to occlude the arteries is six times less than the pressure needed to collapse the airway.’
      • ‘In addition, a thin layer of liquid lining the alveoli exerts surface tension, tending to collapse the lungs, although this surface tension is greatly decreased by the presence of surfactant.’
  • 2(of a person) fall down and become unconscious as a result of illness or injury.

    ‘he collapsed from loss of blood’
    • ‘But Luke Emmerson knew exactly what to do when his mother collapsed on Scarborough seafront and suffered frightening injuries.’
    • ‘At least eight people collapsed, including one soldier, and were treated for heat stress.’
    • ‘A man had collapsed in Victoria Place in the town and was unconscious.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, the day after her endoscopic therapy, she collapsed due to dehydration, which was treated with IV fluids.’
    • ‘A teenager has described his terror when his best friend collapsed from a serious head injury.’
    • ‘King of skiffle Lonnie Donegan died after collapsing just hours before he was due to take the stage in York.’
    • ‘The pilot quickly emptied it and Beck collapsed onto the deck of the mini-sub.’
    • ‘Naturally, this is exactly the time of the year when one comes across people collapsing owing to heat strokes.’
    • ‘Air entering his lungs, he collapsed in the corner farthest away from me.’
    • ‘There was no drinking water, and people collapsed from heat stroke.’
    • ‘He was restrained, but struggled to break lose and collapsed a short time later.’
    • ‘A York pensioner found collapsed at home with mysterious head injuries was fighting for his life in hospital today.’
    • ‘The victim collapses suddenly into unconsciousness.’
    • ‘The dangers it poses were highlighted by the Yorkshire Post two years ago, when in a single weekend, six young people collapsed in Leeds after taking it.’
    • ‘I collapsed, was resuscitated, struggled for a bit, and was moved to the intensive care unit and then to another hospital.’
    • ‘People collapsing in a mid-summer heat wave isn't so rare, so here are some tips for people as they head to the crazy fun of the parade.’
    • ‘Another neighbour said he had heard that the woman had collapsed and fallen down stairs.’
    • ‘He then collapsed to the floor from the effort, instantly unconscious.’
    • ‘Horrified holidaymakers looked on as Jack collapsed unconscious following the accident, and a helicopter was called in to airlift him off the side of the mountain.’
    • ‘He then collapsed behind the podium and died of a heart attack.’
    faint, pass out, black out, lose consciousness, fall unconscious, keel over
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    1. 2.1Sit or lie down as a result of exhaustion or amusement.
      ‘exhausted, he collapsed on the bed’
      ‘the three of them collapsed with laughter’
      • ‘Tenchiki entered his room and collapsed onto his yet folded futon.’
      • ‘With a final cry of exhaustion Joy collapsed on the ground.’
      • ‘I hung up the phone and then collapsed in exhaustion onto my bed.’
      • ‘He ran himself into the ground, and collapsed with exhaustion at the end of the game.’
      • ‘I hoped to wake up a bit on the tube ride north but that didn't happen either, and I eventually found myself staggering home with just enough energy to open the front door, close it and collapse on the duvet.’
      • ‘A couple of years ago, as she was reaching the pinnacle of her career, she returned from an international book tour so exhausted that she collapsed into bed and slept for 24 hours.’
      • ‘In fact, the last time he was in London we had a memorable night out on the town, with him finally collapsing on my couch in Soho after we got in from a nightclub at 6am.’
      • ‘However, even allowing for the unsuitability of his footwear, the attempt on goal that follows is truly awful and Abramovich collapses in fits of laughter as the ball limply trundles wide of the post.’
      • ‘We returned to the flat and collapsed onto the sofa again before putting music on the CD player again.’
      • ‘Three days later, Shuttlesworth rose from bed, where he had remained since collapsing from exhaustion at the Gaston Motel press conference.’
      • ‘And at one point on the set she and another actress collapsed in fits of laughter because Walters was unable to glare angrily.’
      • ‘Not long after, the turmoil took its toll and she collapsed on set with exhaustion.’
      • ‘As for me, I trudged myself up to my room, threw down my bag and folder, and collapsed onto a space on my floor.’
      • ‘Late that night, when the children had fallen asleep and the last neighbour had collapsed under the table, Aurelia appeared in her glittery dress.’
      • ‘He rescued more injured comrades and extinguished the fire before collapsing from exhaustion.’
      • ‘He wandered back to his cell, and collapsed onto his cot.’
      • ‘He collapsed in pain and exhaustion just as the door burst open again.’
      • ‘He slammed the door shut behind him and collapsed against it, closing his eyes and gulping air in an effort to quell his anger.’
      • ‘Her eyes filling with tears, Autumn backed away from the door and back to her cot where she collapsed.’
      • ‘We collapsed in laughter and exhaustion onto the sofa and switched the telly on.’
  • 3Fail suddenly and completely.

    ‘the talks collapsed last week over territorial issues’
    • ‘In our temperate climate, there are few lessons for us, apart maybe from the ease with which any sense of law and order collapsed in the confusion that followed.’
    • ‘The pair's partnership finally collapsed when Gore's team lost the contested election by a ruling of the US Supreme Court.’
    • ‘When the tin market collapsed in the 80s, tens of thousands of unemployed miners turned to the cultivation of Bolivia's other major export - coca leaf.’
    • ‘Almost the entire telephone network has collapsed, increasing panic among the inhabitants.’
    • ‘It applies from Somalia to Kosovo to Sierra Leone - that the peacekeeping force must be prepared to replace the governmental structure that has collapsed.’
    • ‘Pete Elliot and J Middleton started well for Wistow but the middle order collapsed against C Jeffries and S Bugg as Selby won by seven runs.’
    • ‘The government has to respond to the committee report, which is calling for intervention in areas such as parts of Manchester, where the housing market has collapsed.’
    • ‘Months later, the Japanese stock market collapsed.’
    • ‘Last year, three years after Sarah died, the marriage finally collapsed.’
    • ‘Where all state order has collapsed, the assessment problem is whether there is an armed group that bears more responsibility than any other for the gravest human rights abuses.’
    • ‘Civilization has not collapsed and anarchy has failed to reign since we have had gay marriage in Ontario.’
    • ‘Although consumer confidence has not collapsed it could sink low enough to delay any recovery and ultimately deepen any recession.’
    • ‘Needless to say, the BC treaty process has collapsed and failed to produce any results, so you have a very desperate situation in our communities.’
    • ‘If the market collapses for this fish, then the boats will stop fishing for it.’
    • ‘Mobile phone networks collapsed, as thousands tried to call loved ones at the same time.’
    • ‘The Government was last night urged to launch an inquiry after ambitious plans for a new east coast marina appeared to have finally collapsed after a bitter six-year feud.’
    • ‘Aids is ravaging a continent beset by rising levels of malaria and tuberculosis; many health services have collapsed.’
    • ‘The company collapsed when it failed to change with the times.’
    • ‘My conclusion at the time was that the Labour government had failed and collapsed not because it was too left wing, but not left wing enough.’
    • ‘The trial of a chief constable's staff officer accused of stealing a hi-fi from a police property store collapsed after a jury failed to reach a verdict on two charges of theft and one of forgery.’
    break down, fail, fall through, fold, founder, fall flat, miscarry, go wrong, come to nothing, come to grief, be frustrated, be unsuccessful, not succeed, disintegrate
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    1. 3.1(of a price or currency) drop suddenly in value.
      ‘the price of oil collapsed’
      • ‘Sure, it hurts to see a stock continue to rise once you have sold it, but it is often better to sell on the way up than to wait until you have to dump the stock while the price is collapsing after its peak.’
      • ‘In both cases the currency collapsed rather quickly in spite of the loans.’
      • ‘Who knew the share-price was about to collapse because the structure was so unsteady?’
      • ‘The company's share price collapsed during the technology downturn, to the point where it was worth less than the cash it had in the bank.’
      • ‘The price of silver collapsed as other countries rushed to join Germany on the ‘gold standard’.’
      • ‘The chancellor had ordered a review of North Sea taxation in 1997, but was forced to put it on a back burner a year later when the oil price collapsed.’
      • ‘After the price collapsed, Tan was investigated for manipulating the market.’
      • ‘The share price subsequently collapsed to a recent price of around $2.’
      • ‘Institutions are rejecting warnings that house prices could collapse because low interest rates are likely to be held far into next year.’
      • ‘The worst-case scenario is that the single currency will collapse, leaving member countries to start afresh with their discarded currencies.’
      • ‘Over the past decade the dysfunctional global financial system has experienced repeated currency collapses.’
      • ‘It was perceived as a safe option as it would hold its value when other assets and currencies collapsed in value.’
      • ‘But when prices collapsed in the mid-1970s there was little left but neglected farms and a once promising agricultural sector.’
      • ‘France was isolated; its economy and currency were collapsing.’
      • ‘The share price collapsed from 246p to 36p and the company had to be saved by a £277m rights issue.’
      • ‘When the Indonesian currency collapsed, the retail price of soya escalated, making the cooking oil far too expensive for the bulk of the people to afford.’
      • ‘But Iran and Venezuela urging restraint, fearing oil prices could collapse if the market gets swamped.’
      • ‘There hasn't been enough water to grow vegetables here since January; the rice crop was poor this year because of drought, and the rice price collapsed.’
      • ‘Even though the currency was collapsing and the poverty was bad, you could see the history and beauty in it.’
      • ‘Its cash strength saw it through the turbulent waters of the early 1990s when the price of property collapsed.’
  • 4Fold or be foldable into a small space.

    [no object] ‘some cots collapse down to fit into a holdall’
    • ‘The new building certainly looks extraordinary, collapsing in on itself, in folds and twists which defy the eye.’
    • ‘The behavior of these disks differs from a number of systems that collapse by forming folds which extend hundreds of microns into the aqueous phase.’
    • ‘With another command, the Runabout's wings collapsed into themselves and folded up into their stowage position.’
    1. 4.1[with object]Compress a displayed part of (a spreadsheet or other electronic document)
      ‘tabulation programs can be used to collapse this list in various ways’


  • 1An instance of a structure falling down or giving way.

    ‘the collapse of a railway bridge’
    [mass noun] ‘the church roof is in danger of collapse’
    • ‘But it eventually fell out of use and into disrepair until, in the mid-1990s, the structure suffered a serious collapse.’
    • ‘Aside from the structural collapse, there was considerable soot damage from fire, especially on the upper floors.’
    • ‘Later period kilns also used broken pots to pack out the roof, to help prevent any sudden collapses as the temperature rises.’
    • ‘They are designed to help the structure resist progressive collapse if a column is lost.’
    • ‘Parts of the nave wall, which had fallen with the collapse of the tower in 1744, were re-built, a lowpitched roof and ceiling were added and galleries were installed.’
    • ‘Fears have been growing about the safety of the structure since the near collapse of the former Marshall Snelgrove store in St Nicholas Street over the summer.’
    • ‘That day, the paper clearly felt that the collapse of a local railway bridge under the weight of a passing train was not enough.’
    • ‘Painting over the rust conceals, but does not postpone, the inevitable collapse of a rotten structure.’
    • ‘The upward force of the explosion caused each floor on the four-storey building to ‘pancake’, leading to the structure's collapse.’
    • ‘The collapse of the bridge structure caused the minibus to drop 4 meters, injuring two passengers.’
    • ‘A house is close to collapse after a gas leak caused an explosion just after 8am this morning.’
    • ‘This additional loading and damage were sufficient to induce the collapse of both structures.’
    • ‘It was feared at first that the building would be left structurally unsafe following the collapse of the roof.’
    • ‘While that was a nuisance and upset to residents, there was no structural damage, or collapses.’
    • ‘Inspection indicated no rock collapse or fall of trees but the surface of the normally placid water was said to be seen rippling.’
    • ‘The agency reportedly based its recommendation on a study by the ITB team, which said the blocks were no longer structurally sound and were in danger of collapse.’
    • ‘He said he was unhappy that there had been no commitment to carry out necessary work on bridge which suffered a sudden collapse at the end of last year.’
    • ‘Even earthquakes alone can be strong enough to trigger the collapse of a structurally weakened volcano.’
    • ‘In Berlin, Rejean becomes disillusioned by the commercialization of the Wall's collapse and suffers a breakdown.’
    • ‘These dogs specialize in structural collapses and drowning victims.’
    cave-in, giving way, subsidence, crumbling, disintegration
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    1. 1.1A sudden failure of an institution or undertaking.
      ‘the collapse of a number of prominent banks’
      • ‘One creditor owed a four figure sum demanded an inquiry into the sudden collapse of the club.’
      • ‘A small family business has revealed how the sudden collapse of construction company Benson left it £52,000 out of pocket.’
      • ‘Some of the more spectacular failures include the collapse of Pan American Airways in 1991.’
      • ‘That timescale has long since passed, and the Football Association has admitted the whole scheme was close to collapse unless they procured more central funding.’
      • ‘The world has not been clearly reconfigured since the end of the Cold War, which signaled the collapse of a two-polar structure in the world.’
      • ‘Fears persist that the collapse of both institutions is unavoidable, leaving a dangerous political vacuum which could be filled by increased violence.’
      • ‘In the end, Cicero himself fell prey to a collapse of the representative system of government his vision of political rhetoric had fostered.’
      • ‘The surge has sparked concerns that property prices are rising too fast, and that a sudden collapse could damage the overall economy and cause financial sector insolvencies.’
      • ‘This has prompted warnings that the disclosure of the real level of bad debt could set off a wave of corporate failures and banking collapses in the following year.’
      • ‘Sure, an economic collapse or political shock could reverse these gains.’
      • ‘The service sector is the only industry where BDO predicts a fall in business collapses.’
      • ‘Yet, there is a real danger that a complete collapse of the dollar will harm the eurozone more than the US.’
      • ‘Wickets fell steadily, but not too fast, until suddenly we had a collapse, four wickets falling for ducks.’
      • ‘On the ground, societies went into free fall with the collapse of the Soviet Union.’
      • ‘When the New Rome falls, its collapse may come from within.’
      • ‘For members of AI, the debate is triggered by distress at the suffering in states torn apart by armed conict or by the collapse of governmental structures.’
      • ‘Overseas visitors to Kerry who have been affected by the sudden collapse of an American tour operator have been promised they would return home with happy memories of their trip.’
      • ‘A sudden collapse of the pound could lead to equal and opposite problems, such as galloping inflation.’
      • ‘Crawford was referring to allegations in a leaked Scottish Enterprise document that a number of the agency's projects are close to collapse because of mismanagement and internal squabbling.’
      • ‘Is British manufacturing in difficulty, as seen in the case of MG Rover's collapse this month, or in fact in a healthy condition - as seen by Honda's continued success?’
      breakdown, failure, disintegration, foundering, miscarriage, lack of success
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    2. 1.2A physical or mental breakdown.
      ‘he suffered a collapse from overwork’
      [mass noun] ‘she's lying there in a state of collapse’
      • ‘Yet Christiane is also weak, suffering a mental collapse when her husband flees to the West, and refusing to live her life the way she wants to out of fear.’
      • ‘After his return to Lithuania he suffered a mental collapse, and he died in an asylum near Warsaw.’
      • ‘She was close to collapse but noted that the young, smartly dressed woman on her doorstep didn't physically help her.’
      • ‘Defibrillation within three minutes of a witnessed collapse gave the best chance of survival.’
      • ‘Dr Benbow said Mr Rigby was ‘close to death’ and may have suffered a terminal collapse and fallen after going on to the balcony for some fresh air.’
      • ‘Within three weeks of Castillon, Henry VI suffered a mental and physical collapse which lasted for 17 months and from which he may never have fully recovered.’
      • ‘It had been widely reported that Terri suffered from a eating disorder which caused a chemical imbalance that led to her collapse.’
      • ‘At the height of his fame he suffered a nervous collapse, precipitated by family tragedy.’
      • ‘The impact on health is that many of the improving measures of mortality that were seen before the collapse have been replaced by increasing disparities afterwards.’
      • ‘Hölder was offered a post in Tübingen in 1889 but unfortunately he suffered a mental collapse.’
      • ‘There was nothing much more to be said, because I could sense how scared Will had been at my sudden collapse and I also could feel his apologetic air.’
      • ‘Caroline Lynch makes a strong impression as Lady Macbeth but the truncated text allows her little room for development and so her collapse and death feel sudden and unaccountable.’
      • ‘During his attacks Schumann too feared that he would take his own life or suffer a complete mental collapse.’
      • ‘By the time he made it there, he was absolutely exhausted and on the verge of a mental collapse.’
      • ‘Indeed Einstein's life had been hectic and he was to pay the price in 1928 with a physical collapse brought on through overwork.’
      • ‘The life saving pack contains equipment to deal with heart conditions, falls and other home accidents, sports accidents, collapses and seizures and many other emergencies.’
      • ‘Banquo's ghost was dispensed with, though Ian McKellen's astonishing evocation of Macbeth's mental collapse made any physical manifestation redundant.’
      • ‘He describes a scene surrounding the collapse of a young woman on an aeroplane, who appears pale, ‘dead, or dying,’ with dilated pupils.’
      • ‘They told me she'd suffered a collapse, all the heat and standing around in there must've got to her since she wasn't feeling well before.’
      • ‘Andrew took a number of the tablets, began behaving oddly and was close to collapse at the end of the night.’
      breakdown, attack, seizure, prostration, nervous breakdown, mental collapse, nervous collapse, nervous exhaustion, nervous tension, crisis, personal crisis, psychological trauma
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Early 17th century (as collapsed): from medical Latin collapsus, past participle of collabi, from col- together + labi to slip.