Definition of break something down in US 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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Firemen then broke his door down and he was led to safety, the court was told.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘When two men inside refused to open the door, police broke it down.’
    • ‘I don't remember much after that, they told me my dad broke the door down and then called an ambulance.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘‘They had to break the door down to get her out,’ said Diana.’
    knock down, kick down, stave in, smash in, pull down, tear down, demolish, destroy
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  • 2Separate something into parts.

    ‘each tutorial is broken down into more manageable units’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He breaks down the recording process into the simplest of terms.’
    • ‘They broke it down into separate categories such as ‘moral authority’ and ‘crisis leadership.’’
    • ‘I break the stroke down into its many components, train those components as separate entities, then put it back together to train for timing.’
    • ‘The 160 House members and 39 senators essentially break down into three groups.’
    • ‘The scientific management method consisted of breaking down a business process into component activities.’
    • ‘To do it, you have to break the whole operation down into separate, understandable, manageable components.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    divide, separate
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    1. 2.1 Analyze information.
      ‘bar graphs show how the information can be broken down’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘However, when the sample is broken down by age, there is a shift in the frequencies for bones from juvenile individuals.’
      • ‘But that changes when survey respondents are broken down by race.’
      • ‘And one suspects that if the survey results were broken down by geographic region, it would be even less divisive in many red states.’
      • ‘It also sets out no guidelines on whether votes will be broken down by constituency or nation.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Statistical groups are broken down by age, sex, race and geographic location.’
      • ‘However, the figures are not broken down by race.’
      • ‘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.’
      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’
      • ‘Currently insulin cannot be taken in a pill because the hormone is broken down by powerful acids in the stomach.’
      • ‘In most instances, whey proteins can be broken down by heat.’
      • ‘Proteins are broken down into amino acids and fats are broken down into fatty acids.’
      • ‘These loosely bonded and larger molecules are broken down into smaller molecules.’
      • ‘Complex chemical units are broken down into more simple substances.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Eventually, all organisms are broken down by bacteria into nutrients that return to the environment.’
      • ‘A small amount of the sucrose is broken down into glucose.’
      • ‘The venom is broken down by heat.’