Definition of interrupt in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Stop the continuous progress of (an activity or process)

    ‘the buzzer interrupted his thoughts’
    • ‘The Second World War interrupted his studies still further when at the age of 18 he was called into the RAF, where he would stay for seven-and-a-half years.’
    • ‘In addition, the war interrupted the development of scholarship in Old Testament interpretation.’
    • ‘Some US officials have said they are examining ways to interrupt those activities.’
    • ‘The second world war interrupted his medical studies.’
    • ‘He went on to become an apprentice draughtsman, but the Second World War interrupted his studies, and he later went into engineering.’
    • ‘The north Irish Sea region was never so firmly absorbed, partly because the outbreak of the Anglo-Scottish wars in the 1290s interrupted the process.’
    • ‘We established the Horn of Africa Network three years ago and really since three years we haven't seen anything that stops or interrupts this process and we are happy with the achievements we did till now.’
    • ‘War interrupted their courtship, but regular letters from Joyce kept their friendship alive and when George returned this blossomed into love and they married’
    • ‘In East Africa's game sanctuaries, tourists interrupt critical activities like feeding and suckling of the young.’
    • ‘Let your child cope in his or her own way - don't interrupt the process.’
    • ‘But a vaccine against nicotine could help reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings by interrupting the addictive process in the brain.’
    • ‘If she sees you whispering across the room she'll make a face at you as though you're interrupting her learning process.’
    • ‘No big business has interrupted the creative process, and in turn our partners lie hungry.’
    • ‘At one point though the activities were briefly interrupted following an unexpected development.’
    • ‘The election process was almost interrupted by hundreds of student protesters who forced their way into the university's central office where the elections took place.’
    • ‘My sincere apologies for interrupting whatever lesson or activity you were engaged in.’
    • ‘There was no attempt to disarm them or in any way interrupt their activities.’
    • ‘Enterprises won't consider any monitoring that interrupts network activity or compromises their business-critical information and systems.’
    • ‘My father sent me to a boys' school in Manila; he was no longer willing, he said, to let the war interrupt my education.’
    • ‘Activities were interrupted by World War II, with the army taking over much of the museum facilities from 1943 to 1946.’
    cut in, cut in on, break in, break in on, barge in, barge in on, intrude, intrude on, interfere, interfere with, intervene, intervene in
    suspend, adjourn, discontinue, break off, hold up, delay, lay aside, leave off, postpone, put off, put back, defer, shelve
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Stop (someone speaking) by saying or doing something.
      ‘“Of course …” Shepherd began, but his son interrupted him’
      with direct speech ‘“Hold on,” he interrupted’
      • ‘During meetings, a speaker is never interrupted until it is clear they have finished speaking.’
      • ‘There is a lot to tell you so please do not interrupt me until I am done.’
      • ‘His barrage of questions just kept coming until I interrupted him.’
      • ‘Bob was helping a customer when I got to the store and I didn't want to interrupt him until he was finished, but at the same time I wanted to get to the bottom of the schedule quandary.’
      • ‘She kept whispering her thanks until Alec finally interrupted her.’
      • ‘She interrupted him speaking softly in a determined voice.’
      • ‘Hoss listened quietly and without interrupting until Adam had finished.’
      • ‘Her attention was diverted by the waiter who brought her coffee, and she gave her order as the conversation at the next table got on in low tones until it too was interrupted by the waiter.’
      • ‘I mean, I do not want to interrupt you, but did you ever obstruct the inquiry?’
      • ‘I was about to add to her statement, until I was interrupted.’
      • ‘In a louder voice, he resumed reading his lines, but was interrupted by the bell.’
      • ‘All of a sudden, arguments were heard over the radio about the man's views of Norway in the form of bored voices interrupting each other in the dullest kind of way.’
      • ‘Coach wouldn't say a word, merely pulled us into a huddle and began talking basketball until he was interrupted by a sudden roar of the crowd.’
      • ‘Most people will be highly complimented if you don't interrupt them until they're through.’
      • ‘They both walked out of the classroom together, talking until they were interrupted by their own names being called.’
      • ‘As Lore opened her mouth once again to ask, a chime in the background interrupted her.’
      • ‘Before she had finished making up her part, Rose excitedly offered her suggestions, and had to be sternly told not to interrupt until Karen was finished.’
  • 2Break the continuity of (a line or surface)

    ‘the coastal plain is interrupted by chains of large lagoons’
    • ‘It is hard to imagine a more isolated and remote spot, set in the heart of the open Suffolk countryside where few landmarks interrupt the flat horizon.’
    • ‘But the idyllic rural landscape is interrupted every few miles by vast industrial plants which rear up on the horizon, pumping toxic waste from multiple grey chimneys.’
    • ‘The still surface was interrupted by something else floating nearby.’
    • ‘The architects even specified that plastered surfaces were to have no joint markings that would visually interrupt their continuity.’
    • ‘In these and other objects of the time, Noguchi used simple shapes with surfaces interrupted by additions or deletions that are geometric or nearly so.’
    break up, break, punctuate, intersperse
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 Obstruct (something, especially a view).
      • ‘Here was land where nothing grew, not even a blade of grass, and no birds or any other sign of life interrupted the forbidding vistas.’
      • ‘Though it interrupts the vista, Conran cannot bring himself to cut it down.’
      • ‘Tall as it is, there are no pillars to hold up its glazed roof, or to interrupt the view of MSPs or their audience.’
      • ‘Beyond that, a grassy plain stretched for miles and out of view, interrupted by a couple of scattered rock formations and some trees.’
      • ‘By interrupting the view with a screen of shrubs or a fence, you can turn what would otherwise be just an annoyance into a voyage of discovery.’
      • ‘A few minutes later, green sneakers interrupted my line of vision.’
      • ‘My line of vision was interrupted as someone hesitantly sat opposite me.’
      • ‘These develop most commonly on gradients, where seepage of water down the slope through the surface soil is interrupted by barriers of rock, or of clay reaching or approaching the surface.’
      • ‘You have sun, sea, sand, and that's about it: no traffic noise, no pollution, no beach hawkers and nothing to interrupt your view of the horizon.’
      • ‘The buzz grew louder again, and a flash of black wheels interrupted the view of the gravel.’
      • ‘The link was most clear in patients with obstructive sleep apnoea, when breathing may be interrupted because the upper airways collapse.’
      • ‘There are no powerlines to interrupt the vistas, and snowmobiles are not allowed on these trails, as they are on most others in the Black Hills.’
      • ‘And half-walls make areas appear larger than they are, dividing space without interrupting lines of sight.’
      • ‘Just then, Pace leaned forward and his oversize head interrupted my view of the seductress.’
      • ‘Adding the facades will cause tank crewmen to anticipate when the obstacles will obscure their view and interrupt their gun-target line.’
      • ‘On the night bus, stealthily ogling the East European porn-star lookalike across the aisle, my view was interrupted by someone sitting down next to me.’
      obstruct, impede, block, interfere with, cut off, get in the way of, limit, restrict
      View synonyms


Late Middle English: from Latin interrupt- ‘broken, interrupted’, from the verb interrumpere, from inter- ‘between’ + rumpere ‘to break’.