Definition of break up in English:

break up

See synonyms for break up

Translate break up into Spanish

phrasal verb

  • 1Disintegrate or disperse.

    ‘the gray clouds had begun to break up’
    • ‘the bones had broken up into minute fragments’
    • ‘The one mass of land began to break up, and the separating continents took with them living cargoes of animals.’
    • ‘Pumps were put on the vessel to keep it afloat so that local boats could try and tow it from the rocks but it began to break up after an hour and a half.’
    • ‘One of the workers, Sandile Matshini, tells of his lucky escape when a container in which he was sleeping was pulled up a hill as the ship began breaking up.’
    • ‘The temperature rises to between - 20 and - 40 degrees Celsius, and the ice has not yet begun to break up.’
    • ‘Spring in Alaska is often referred to as ‘breakup’ because snow and ice on rivers and lakes begin to melt and break up.’
    • ‘They have identified 85 trouble spots where engineers fear trains could be derailed by tracks that have begun to break up.’
    • ‘Outside, the rain had stopped, and the clouds were beginning to break up, though inside the barn it remained gloomy.’
    • ‘So, as the ice begins to break up on the bay, the bears move closer and closer to the coastline, eating as many seals as they can to store up fat.’
    • ‘The rain had stopped and the clouds had begun to break up by the time he woke.’
    • ‘Since then, for reasons that are uncertain, this landmass began to break up and the continents gradually moved into the positions they are in today.’
    1. 1.1break something up, break up somethingCause something to separate into several 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.’
      • ‘We broke it up into pieces and sold it.’
      • ‘A good idea would be to break it up into sections.’
      • ‘He plays a shrewd businessman who buys struggling companies, then breaks them up and sells the pieces.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 2(of a gathering) come to an end and disperse.

    ‘after about an hour, the meeting broke up’
    • ‘There will even be powers for the police to break up public meetings and gatherings without the need for specific permission from the Home Office or any government minister or department.’
    • ‘The police clearly have orders to break up even the smallest gathering despite the fact that freedom of expression and assembly are constitutionally guaranteed.’
    • ‘Last March, he and other officers broke up a gathering near the scene of the crash.’
    • ‘The meeting broke up without any firm decision being taken, as all members are now to be circulated to ascertain attitudes to the proposed £4,500 charge.’
    • ‘The meeting broke up without reaching an agreement.’
    • ‘The police tried to break up any groups that gathered.’
    • ‘Police will also use a Dispersal Order to break up groups of youths loitering on the streets.’
    • ‘Later he broke up the group and began an influential career as musician.’
    • ‘A police mission to break up unruly gangs is beginning to work.’
    • ‘The crowd began to break up, flowing down the hall to their classes.’
    come to an end, end, finish, stop, terminate
    disperse, scatter, go in different directions, move in different directions, go separate ways, disband, separate, part company
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    1. 2.1break something up, break up somethingDisperse or put an end to a gathering.
      ‘officers broke up the illegal rave’
      • ‘On the second day, the gathering was broken up by the police, but not before the charter was adopted as a guiding document.’
      • ‘The protests were broken up by police and militias.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, a further protest against the summit was broken up by police.’
      • ‘‘I'll have to call the police to break it up,’ he answered gravely.’
      • ‘He runs over to the dog fight to try and break it up.’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘‘They started to fight and I was trying to break them up and I never saw the knife,’ she said.’
      • ‘The fight continued until three teachers came in and broke it up.’
      disperse, scatter, disband, separate
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2break something up, break up somethingBring a social event or meeting to an end by being the first person to leave.
      ‘Richard was sorry to break up the party’
      • ‘Sorry to break the party up but I need to steal your friend away.’
      • ‘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.’
      put an end to, bring to an end, destroy, wreck, ruin
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  • 3(with reference to a couple) end a romantic or sexual relationship.

    ‘I was heartbroken when we broke up’
    • ‘I recently broke up with my fiancé’
    • ‘But our relationship soon fell apart and we broke up a couple weeks later.’
    • ‘We broke up a couple of years back and don't talk any more.’
    • ‘The couple broke up and the stress of life as a single mother pushed her to the brink of a nervous breakdown.’
    • ‘I know that when a couple breaks up, they usually don't get back together again.’
    • ‘A story is told of a New York couple who break up, because the husband, Stanley, has informed his wife, Jessie, that for the last year he's been having an affair.’
    • ‘What's the use of going through the elaborate preparations and wedding ceremony, when the couple is going to break up eventually?’
    • ‘You and Chris broke up once in high school, didn't you?’
    • ‘I thought I would be going with my long term boyfriend, but we ended up breaking up after I bought the tickets.’
    • ‘We broke up a week before school ended, and haven't spoken since.’
    • ‘‘I was thinking we should break up,’ he stopped and looked at me surprised.’
    split up, separate, part, stop living together, part company, reach a parting of the ways, become estranged
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  • 4mainly North American Start laughing uncontrollably.

    ‘the whole cast broke up’
    • ‘Everybody broke up laughing, according to the police reports - except, of course, Julius.’
    • ‘There were a couple of times we'd break up laughing when I'd catch someone turning to look at me in a wide shot.’
    burst out laughing, start to laugh, roar with laughter, dissolve into laughter, shake with laughter, laugh uncontrollably, guffaw, be doubled up, split one's sides, hold one's sides
    View synonyms
    1. 4.1mainly North American Become emotionally upset.
    2. 4.2break someone up, break up someonemainly North American Cause someone to become extremely upset.
      ‘seeing the children again nearly broke her up’
      • ‘Like all satirists from Juvenal on he is broken up about the march of folly.’
      • ‘Gordon had been crying for a week, but that song broke him up anew.’
      • ‘I cannot understand that, and it just breaks me up terribly.’
      • ‘Obviously he was broken up over the loss of his livelihood, so why was this man laughing?’
      • ‘That income helped us make ends meet, but my little sister had to stop taking dance lessons, and she was broken up about it.’
  • 5(with reference to a phone or radio signal) be interrupted by interference.

    • ‘you're breaking up, I can't hear you’
  • 6mainly British End the school term.

    ‘we broke up for the summer’
    • ‘The Lowry should be in a class of its own when the schools break up for half term.’
    • ‘The school is expected to break up for the summer term today with many students sitting Leaving and Junior Cert exams next week.’
    • ‘Schools break up for their half term this Friday, October 22 and return on Tuesday, November 2.’
    • ‘The weekend before school broke up, Emily threw a farewell party for Liz and Steven.’
    • ‘The snow began, school broke up for the Christmas holidays, and she knew she would never be back again.’