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break up - definition and synonyms


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90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.



The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

phrasal verb
Word Forms
present tense
I/you/we/theybreak up
he/she/itbreaks up
present participlebreaking up
past tensebroke up
past participlebroken up
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  1. 1
    [transitive] to break something to make smaller pieces

    Break the chocolate up into squares.

    Synonyms and related words
    1. a.
      [intransitive] if something breaks up, it breaks into smaller pieces

      The plane broke up in mid-air.

      Synonyms and related words
  2. 2
    [intransitive/transitive] if a relationship breaks up, it ends

    The marriage broke up just a few years later.

    There were suggestions that her involvement had broken up the partnership.

    1. a.
      [intransitive/transitive] if two people break up, they end their relationship
      break up with:

      He’s just broken up with his girlfriend.

  3. 3
    [intransitive/transitive] if a meeting or other event breaks up, or if you break it up, it ends and people leave

    The talks didn’t break up until after midnight.

    Sorry to break up the party, but I have to go.

  4. 5
    [intransitive] if the sound on a radio or mobile phone breaks up, you can no longer hear the person who is speaking on it

    I can’t hear you, you’re breaking up.

  5. 7
    [transitive] to divide a large area or a period of time into smaller parts so that it does not seem so big or long

    I usually go for a walk around three o’clock to break up the afternoon.

See also main entry: break

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in an online conversation, repeatedly asking a person questions which suggest that you are interested in what they are talking about, but are actually intended to annoy them

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