Definition of break something up in US English:

break something up

phrasal verb

  • 1Cause something to separate into 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’
    • ‘He plays a shrewd businessman who buys struggling companies, then breaks them up and sells the pieces.’
    • ‘We broke it up into pieces and sold it.’
    • ‘A good idea would be to break it up into sections.’
    • ‘I broke it up into four sections.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The supplements are broken up into five 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.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 1.1 Disperse or put an end to a gathering.
      ‘police broke up a demonstration in the capital’
      • ‘He runs over to the dog fight to try and break it up.’
      • ‘‘They started to fight and I was trying to break them up and I never saw the knife,’ she said.’
      • ‘Four security guards entered the fight and broke it up.’
      • ‘Fortunately, there had been teachers to break the fight up before anyone had gotten seriously hurt.’
      • ‘The fight continued until three teachers came in and broke it up.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, a further protest against the summit was broken up by police.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The protests were broken up by police and militias.’
      • ‘‘I'll have to call the police to break it up,’ he answered gravely.’
      • ‘On the second day, the gathering was broken up by the police, but not before the charter was adopted as a guiding document.’
      disperse, scatter, disband, separate
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    2. 1.2 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.’
      • ‘‘I hate to break this party up but Michelle has a class to get back to,’ he told them.’
      • ‘Sorry to break the party up but I need to steal your friend away.’
      put an end to, bring to an end, destroy, wreck, ruin
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