Meaning of break down in English:

break down

See synonyms for break down

Translate break down into Spanish

phrasal verb

  • 1(of a machine or motor vehicle) suddenly cease to function.

    ‘his van broke down’
    • ‘The washing machine broke down - again - over Christmas.’
    • ‘Leaving for class the next day, my car suddenly broke down.’
    • ‘If a particular washing machine broke down after seven months of normal use, it would seem probable that there was something wrong with it at the time of sale.’
    • ‘Who is responsible, for instance, when a machine breaks down?’
    • ‘If your machine breaks down, this could prove costly.’
    • ‘Your new washing machine breaks down, and when you try to get someone to look at it, you're told you didn't fill in the guarantee form in time - even though you know you did.’
    • ‘If the machine breaks down, you could be left miles from help.’
    • ‘Suddenly the bus breaks down in the middle of nowhere, which is officially the worst place to have a breakdown.’
    • ‘That way, when the car breaks down, the washing machine floods the kitchen floor or the telly goes ping you don't need to make a drama out of a crisis.’
    • ‘No-one knows when the car will break down, the washing machine go into hyper-spin, or worse still, you lose your job, your child becomes sick or your partner leaves you.’
    stop working, cease to function, cease to work, go wrong, seize up, give out, develop a fault
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  • 2(of a relationship, agreement, or process) cease to continue; collapse.

    ‘pay negotiations with management broke down’
    • ‘John is urging owners to pay more consideration to their animals' needs when their marriage or relationship breaks down.’
    • ‘Doctors have gone on strike after an agreement with management broke down.’
    • ‘After wage negotiations with hospital management broke down last week, the National Medical Workers Union last Thursday voted in favor of a strike.’
    • ‘The talks broke down on Friday without agreement.’
    • ‘But when their relationship broke down he moved back to his North East home and lost touch.’
    • ‘Our relationship was breaking down, and I think she knew I was going to leave her.’
    • ‘While a relationship is breaking down, people can be unspeakably cruel to each other.’
    • ‘Within weeks, however, the agreement began to break down and before long violence had reached an unparalleled intensity.’
    • ‘Your marriage breaks down (or you suddenly get hitched) and your life changes completely…’
    • ‘Relations with his own father suddenly and unexpectedly broke down.’
    fail, collapse, come to nothing, founder, fall through, come to grief, be unsuccessful, not succeed, disintegrate
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    1. 2.1Lose control of one's emotions when in a state of distress.
      ‘the old woman broke down in tears’
      • ‘He tried to keep calm, not wanting to lose control and break down in front of the man who was challenging him.’
      • ‘In December 1998 he broke down in tears after losing to a little - known rival from Hong Kong.’
      • ‘She was afraid she would lose herself and completely break down.’
      • ‘Emotion swept over her as she broke down in tears.’
      • ‘When my co-worker got off the phone, she just broke down in tears.’
      • ‘The witness broke down in tears during her testimony.’
      • ‘Suddenly, she broke down into sobs, her hand leaving the knife handle and tears falling down her face like waterfalls.’
      • ‘Suddenly I found myself breaking down, my body heaving with sobs, and I felt Jordan's arms close around me and pull me close.’
      • ‘She wondered if his whereabouts for the past 24 hours had something to do with his mood and that's what caused him to break down so suddenly tonight.’
      • ‘She didn't seem to be the type to suddenly break down.’
      burst into tears, dissolve into tears
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    2. 2.2(of a person's health or emotional control) fail or collapse.
      ‘his health broke down under the strain of overwork’
      • ‘Janet's normal self-control and impassiveness had broken down utterly’
      • ‘In the summer of 1927, the Indian prince's health broke down and he went to Switzerland to recuperate.’
      • ‘I nursed my wife for three-and-a-half years until my health broke down.’
      • ‘For the next ten years, until his health broke down, he worked with great zeal to establish a public system of elementary education, supervised by a national body of inspectors.’
      • ‘In the spring of 1901 his health broke down.’
      • ‘Golf was another pleasure until his health broke down.’
      • ‘In 1883 Archibald's health broke down and he travelled to London, hoping perhaps to make his fortune on Fleet Street.’
      • ‘His health broke down in the Far East and he returned home to recuperate.’
      • ‘His health, precarious since the war, broke down in 1921.’
      • ‘He was appointed to this chair in 1883 but his health, which had always been poor, broke down completely in February 1886.’
      • ‘‘I'm scared of being old and dying without dignity and my body breaking down,’ he continues.’
  • 3break something down, break down somethingDemolish a door or other barrier.

    ‘they had to get the police to break the door down’
    • ‘geographic barriers can be broken down by the internet’
    • ‘No one was in the premises when police broke the door down, and detectives were today making further inquiries.’
    • ‘Eventually the police managed to break the door down, carry her out and bring her here to spend the night.’
    • ‘When two men inside refused to open the door, police broke it down.’
    • ‘Firemen then broke his door down and he was led to safety, the court was told.’
    • ‘‘They had to break the door down to get her out,’ said Diana.’
    • ‘I don't remember much after that, they told me my dad broke the door down and then called an ambulance.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The ‘see me’ campaign has been funded by the Scottish health department to break down negative attitudes towards mental health problems.’
    • ‘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.’
    knock down, kick down, stave in, smash in, pull down, tear down, demolish, destroy
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  • 4break something down, break down somethingSeparate something into a number of parts.

    ‘each tutorial is broken down into more manageable units’
    • ‘They broke it down into separate categories such as ‘moral authority’ and ‘crisis leadership.’’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘To do it, you have to break the whole operation down into separate, understandable, manageable components.’
    • ‘I break the stroke down into its many components, train those components as separate entities, then put it back together to train for timing.’
    • ‘My nervousness is coming back, but the instructors break down the driving into fairly foolproof bites.’
    • ‘The scientific management method consisted of breaking down a business process into component activities.’
    • ‘He breaks down the recording process into the simplest of terms.’
    • ‘The 160 House members and 39 senators essentially break down into three groups.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Fortunately, the report breaks the statistics down into highly specific segments which are informative and very useful.’
    divide, separate
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    1. 4.1Analyse information.
      ‘bar graphs show how the information can be broken down’
      • ‘It also sets out no guidelines on whether votes will be broken down by constituency or nation.’
      • ‘And one suspects that if the survey results were broken down by geographic region, it would be even less divisive in many red states.’
      • ‘But that changes when survey respondents are broken down by race.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It is a similar picture when the detailed results are broken down by political party.’
      • ‘Statistical groups are broken down by age, sex, race and geographic location.’
      • ‘However, the figures are not broken down by race.’
      • ‘However, when the sample is broken down by age, there is a shift in the frequencies for bones from juvenile individuals.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It is one of the best in 20 years, and, if we analyse it and break it down, we will understand that better.’
      analyse, categorize, classify, sort out, itemize, organize
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  • 5break something down, break down somethingConvert a substance into simpler compounds by chemical action.

    ‘almost every natural substance can be broken down by bacteria’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Proteins are broken down into amino acids and fats are broken down into fatty acids.’
    • ‘A small amount of the sucrose is broken down into glucose.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘These loosely bonded and larger molecules are broken down into smaller molecules.’
    • ‘Eventually, all organisms are broken down by bacteria into nutrients that return to the environment.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The venom is broken down by heat.’
    1. 5.1break downUndergo chemical decomposition.
      ‘the waste products break down into low-level toxic materials’
      • ‘Ozone also tends to be unstable and break down into dioxygen and nascent oxygen and to react readily with other substances.’
      • ‘Rather, large molecules tend to break down into smaller ones.’
      • ‘In the chemical reaction, compounds break down to form various gases.’
      • ‘During digestion, carbohydrates break down into sugar and enter the bloodstream in the form of glucose, a simple sugar.’
      • ‘Grass cuttings, if not mixed with other stuff, will break down into a layer of thick green sludge.’
      • ‘You can throw your cuttings as well as dried leaves in your compost bin, which will break down into a nutrient-rich compost for next season.’
      • ‘In other cases, a drug may break down into other, harmful substances.’
      • ‘These plastics eventually break down into harmless products, but only after up to several hundred years.’
      • ‘When you eat carbs, they break down into glucose, which is stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver.’
      • ‘The use of aspartame is limited at high or prolonged temperatures because it breaks down and loses its sweetness.’