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’
    • ‘I broke it up into four sections.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A good idea would be to break it up into sections.’
    1. 1.1 Disperse or put an end to a gathering.
      ‘police broke up a demonstration in the capital’
      • ‘Fortunately, there had been teachers to break the fight up before anyone had gotten seriously hurt.’
      • ‘Four security guards entered the fight and broke it up.’
      • ‘He runs over to the dog fight to try and break it up.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, a further protest against the summit was broken up by police.’
      • ‘The protests were broken up by police and militias.’
      • ‘‘They started to fight and I was trying to break them up and I never saw the knife,’ she said.’
      • ‘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 fight continued until three teachers came in and broke it up.’
      • ‘‘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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