Break down

Break down

By Alena Lien, 

25 September 2018



"Break down" has 8 definitions.


In general, "break down" means "to stop working" or "to remove obstacles." This can be applied to a variety of different situations.



Definitions


 

1.   When a machine or vehicle stops working.



  • "If the car breaks down again, I won't have enough money to get it fixed."

 



2.   When communication or a relationship has failed because of a problem or disagreement. 



  • "The discussion was going so well until it finally broke down."

  • "Their relationship eventually broke down because he was addicted to gambling."

 


"Break up" or "Break down"

 

A similar phrasal verb can be used, "to break up," to mean they separated.


 

  • "They eventually broke up because he was addicted to gambling."

 


 

3.   A sudden collapse in one's mental or physical health.



  • "His health broke down due to overworking."



It is also quite common to use this in the noun form.



  • "He had a nervous breakdown."




4.   To start crying or become very upset.



  • "After hearing the bad news, he broke down and cried."







5.   To break a door or a wall.



  • "The firefighters broke down the door to get inside the burning building."




6.   To remove a difficulty or an obstacle that is preventing something from happening.



  • "There may be some barriers that need to be broken down for a smooth transition."




7.   To divide something into separate parts.



  • "Breaking it down into smaller tasks makes it more manageable."



This can also be applied to chemical substances when it is undergoing decomposition.



  • "A chemical compound is broken down into two or more elemental parts or to simpler compounds."




8.   To explain something step by step.



  • "I'll break down the lecture for you."



This can also be applied to numerical analysis. However, these are usually specific business terms in the noun form.



  • "A cost breakdown analysis is required for each step of the project."




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