Definition of breakdown in US English:



  • 1A mechanical failure.

    • ‘Accidents result from breakdowns in the mechanisms that practitioners use to anticipate, detect, and bridge gaps.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘There can be no guarantee, not least because mechanical breakdowns happen from time to time, and perhaps even gradually.’
    • ‘A computer systems breakdown was like the straw that broke the camel's back.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In the harsh environment of space, however, satellites may fail prematurely because of mechanical breakdowns, damage from solar flares, or collisions with orbiting debris.’
    • ‘Like most companies, Rambus backs up its e-mail servers as a hedge against a catastrophic system breakdown.’
    • ‘With the weather on his side and no mechanical breakdowns, it will be a good harvest.’
    • ‘Trash dumps, space fights, or mechanical breakdowns could all leave various sized pieces of often-viable space junk floating around.’
    • ‘Clacton Leisure Centre cleared the swimming pool on Friday after a mechanical breakdown.’
    • ‘It is, after all, free information usable for blackmail, theft or provoking a crippling system breakdown.’
    • ‘As a side note, beware of mechanical breakdowns this week, especially on Tuesday.’
    • ‘This lack of foresight caused numerous mechanical breakdowns.’
    • ‘Some mechanical breakdowns could be avoided if drivers properly inspected the buses before they begin their routes, as required by federal law, Scanlon said.’
    • ‘The disadvantage is that the line between terminals and the computer centre is, of course, subject to mechanical disturbances and breakdowns.’
    • ‘There would be system breakdown, the business would lose direction, and employees would be overcome by lethargy.’
    • ‘Most of the contenders in the JWRC suffered mechanical breakdowns, punctures or accidents.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    malfunction, failure, seizing up
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  • 2A failure of a relationship or system.

    ‘a breakdown in military discipline’
    ‘some of these women will have experienced marital breakdown’
    ‘the breakdown of their marriage’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Sometimes it's simply a problem of a breakdown in communications or a lack of understanding about the systems.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘There was a complete systems failure, and a complete breakdown in relations and cooperation between the FBI and CIA.’
    • ‘This in turn can lead to prejudice and a breakdown in community relationships.’
    • ‘It's wrong to let them off the hook altogether and only blame the managers, the systems and a breakdown in communications.’
    • ‘The situation within the company is described as a complete breakdown in the relationship between the parties, a deadlock and a hostile environment.’
    • ‘‘You formed a grudge as a result of the breakdown in the relationship,’ he said.’
    • ‘If there's a breakdown in the parent-child relationship, an escalating game of cat and mouse involving the phone could escalate.’
    • ‘After 2,600 words of this self-pity, Henderson is willing to take some blame for the breakdown in their relationship.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Do you feel responsible at all for the breakdown in the relationship with the media?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The breakdown in our relationship with God needs to be dealt with first.’
    • ‘More specifically, the test is whether the employee's dishonesty gave rise to a breakdown in the employment relationship.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The result is a pattern of estrangement that can lead to a damaging breakdown in relationships.’
    • ‘The course is designed to assist people who are separated and help them meet other people who have experienced a breakdown in a relationship.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Professional disagreements can sometimes accentuate personal differences leading to a breakdown in working relationships - with a serious impact on patient care.’
    failure, collapse, disintegration, foundering, falling through
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    1. 2.1 A sudden collapse in someone's mental health.
      • ‘I ended up having a mental breakdown about 9 hours before the exam and managed a C for that subject.’
      • ‘He resigned because of ill health and in 1889 suffered a mental breakdown from which he never properly recovered.’
      • ‘When she disappeared for three years, rumours circulated that she had suffered a mental breakdown and her reputation as a mysterious recluse was forged.’
      • ‘Frontline troops are finding their tours of duty extended, causing huge morale problems and an epidemic of breakdowns and mental health problems.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I have wondered, with no small degree of guilt, if we contributed to her mental breakdown.’
      • ‘I think my management and my lawyer are both having mental breakdowns.’
      • ‘It charts the decline and subsequent recovery of the then 19-year-old author, hospitalised in the late 1960s because of a mental breakdown.’
      • ‘I assume they wanted to see me have a mental breakdown.’
      • ‘For he presents evidence showing that emotional breakdown after a tragedy is the exception, not the rule.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And she had a basic breakdown of her nervous system.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Two mental breakdowns appeared to accelerate the decline in his one good eye, yet he has an awesome visual memory.’
      • ‘In fact, the house brought me close to a mental breakdown.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Depression had a grip he admitted, and his problems were compounded by the stigma towards mental health and mental breakdown.’
      • ‘This is what eventually led to his mental breakdown and the deaths of many of the heads of Britain.’
      • ‘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.’
      nervous breakdown, collapse, mental collapse
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  • 3The chemical or physical decomposition of something.

    ‘the breakdown of ammonia to nitrites’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Catabolism is the breakdown of complex molecules into simpler constituents, usually with the release of energy.’
    • ‘Chemical degradation is the breakdown of pesticides by processes that do not involve living organisms.’
    • ‘Micrite can precipitate from seawater or form from the breakdown of larger carbonate grains.’
    • ‘These are formed during the oxidative breakdown of food.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But they slow mental deterioration by blocking the breakdown of the brain chemical acetylcholine.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The breakdown of polymeric sugars begins in the mouth.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Some water supplies (mostly ponds and streams) contain some natural organic chemicals from the breakdown of plants and leaves.’
    • ‘Malondialdehyde, formed from the breakdown of polyunsaturated fatty acids, serves as a convenient index for determining the extent of the peroxidation reaction.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘These fish suffer from immune system breakdown, infections, open sores, muscle loss and brain destruction.’
    • ‘The breakdown of the polymer coating is heat unit related, not triggered directly by temperature.’
    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.’
      • ‘It also gives a detailed breakdown of costs to distributors and compares this to the selling prices.’
      • ‘The country-by-country breakdown clearly shows how widespread missile proliferation has become.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We establish open book costing right from the get-go and ask suppliers to provide detailed cost breakdowns.’
      • ‘A breakdown of the statistics by police division shows that Port-of-Spain remains the most dangerous district in the country.’
      • ‘Under another new directive, all products containing any allergens must include details of their chemical breakdown.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Ask for a detailed breakdown of programme costs.’
      • ‘We'll offer analysis and statistical breakdowns, more photos, more of everything.’
      • ‘The developers have not provided a breakdown of the restoration costs which would enable a conventional assessment to be made.’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      analysis, classification, categorization, itemization, dissection
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  • 4A lively, energetic American country dance.