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break down - definition and synonyms

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phrasal verb
Word Forms
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present tense
I/you/we/theybreak down
he/she/itbreaks down
present participlebreaking down
past tensebroke down
past participlebroken down
  1. 1
    [intransitive] if a machine or vehicle breaks down, it stops working
    The car broke down just outside Winchester.
  2. 2
    [transitive] to divide something such as a total amount into separate parts
    The amount doesn’t seem quite so bad when you break it down into monthly payments.
    1. a.
      [intransitive/transitive] if a substance breaks down or is broken down into parts, it separates into the parts that it is made up of
      The substance is easily broken down by bacteria.
      Synonyms and related words
  3. 3
    [intransitive] if a relationship or discussion breaks down, it stops being successful
    At one point, the talks broke down completely.
  4. 4
    [intransitive] to start crying, especially in public
    People broke down and wept when they heard the news.
  5. 5
    [transitive] to hit something such as a door or wall very hard so that it falls down
    Firefighters had to break down the door to get into the flat.
    Synonyms and related words
  6. 6
    [transitive] to remove a difficulty that prevents something from happening
    The aim of the agreement is to break down barriers to trade.
See also main entry: break

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