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1 definition found
for To break the back
From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :
Break \Break\ (br[=a]k), v. t. [imp. broke (br[=o]k), (Obs.
Brake); p. p. Broken (br[=o]"k'n), (Obs. Broke); p. pr.
& vb. n. Breaking.] [OE. breken, AS. brecan; akin to OS.
brekan, D. breken, OHG. brehhan, G. brechen, Icel. braka to
creak, Sw. braka, br[aum]kka to crack, Dan. br[ae]kke to
break, Goth. brikan to break, L. frangere. Cf. Bray to
pound, Breach, Fragile.]
1. To strain apart; to sever by fracture; to divide with
violence; as, to break a rope or chain; to break a seal;
to break an axle; to break rocks or coal; to break a lock.
2. To lay open as by breaking; to divide; as, to break a
package of goods.
3. To lay open, as a purpose; to disclose, divulge, or
Katharine, break thy mind to me. --Shak.
4. To infringe or violate, as an obligation, law, or promise.
Out, out, hyena! these are thy wonted arts . . .
To break all faith, all vows, deceive, betray.
5. To interrupt; to destroy the continuity of; to dissolve or
terminate; as, to break silence; to break one's sleep; to
break one's journey.
Go, release them, Ariel;
My charms I'll break, their senses I'll restore.
6. To destroy the completeness of; to remove a part from; as,
to break a set.
7. To destroy the arrangement of; to throw into disorder; to
pierce; as, the cavalry were not able to break the British
8. To shatter to pieces; to reduce to fragments.
The victim broke in pieces the musical instruments
with which he had solaced the hours of captivity.
9. To exchange for other money or currency of smaller
denomination; as, to break a five dollar bill.
10. To destroy the strength, firmness, or consistency of; as,
to break flax.
11. To weaken or impair, as health, spirit, or mind.
An old man, broken with the storms of state.
12. To diminish the force of; to lessen the shock of, as a
fall or blow.
I'll rather leap down first, and break your fall.
13. To impart, as news or information; to broach; -- with to,
and often with a modified word implying some reserve; as,
to break the news gently to the widow; to break a purpose
cautiously to a friend.
14. To tame; to reduce to subjection; to make tractable; to
discipline; as, to break a horse to the harness or
saddle. "To break a colt." --Spenser.
Why, then thou canst not break her to the lute?
15. To destroy the financial credit of; to make bankrupt; to
With arts like these rich Matho, when he speaks,
Attracts all fees, and little lawyers breaks.
16. To destroy the official character and standing of; to
cashier; to dismiss.
I see a great officer broken. --Swift.
Note: With prepositions or adverbs:
To break down.
(a) To crush; to overwhelm; as, to break down one's
strength; to break down opposition.
(b) To remove, or open a way through, by breaking; as, to
break down a door or wall.
To break in.
(a) To force in; as, to break in a door.
(b) To train; to discipline; as, a horse well broken in.
To break of, to rid of; to cause to abandon; as, to break
one of a habit.
To break off.
(a) To separate by breaking; as, to break off a twig.
(b) To stop suddenly; to abandon. "Break off thy sins by
righteousness." --Dan. iv. 27.
To break open, to open by breaking. "Open the door, or I
will break it open." --Shak.
To break out, to take or force out by breaking; as, to
break out a pane of glass.
To break out a cargo, to unstow a cargo, so as to unload it
To break through.
(a) To make an opening through, as, as by violence or the
force of gravity; to pass violently through; as, to
break through the enemy's lines; to break through the
(b) To disregard; as, to break through the ceremony.
To break up.
(a) To separate into parts; to plow (new or fallow
ground). "Break up this capon." --Shak. "Break up
your fallow ground." --Jer. iv. 3.
(b) To dissolve; to put an end to. "Break up the court."
To break (one) all up, to unsettle or disconcert
completely; to upset. [Colloq.]
Note: With an immediate object:
To break the back.
(a) To dislocate the backbone; hence, to disable totally.
(b) To get through the worst part of; as, to break the
back of a difficult undertaking.
To break bulk, to destroy the entirety of a load by
removing a portion of it; to begin to unload; also, to
transfer in detail, as from boats to cars.
To break a code to discover a method to convert coded
messages into the original understandable text.
To break cover, to burst forth from a protecting
concealment, as game when hunted.
To break a deer or To break a stag, to cut it up and
apportion the parts among those entitled to a share.
To break fast, to partake of food after abstinence. See
To break ground.
(a) To open the earth as for planting; to commence
excavation, as for building, siege operations, and
the like; as, to break ground for a foundation, a
canal, or a railroad.
(b) Fig.: To begin to execute any plan.
(c) (Naut.) To release the anchor from the bottom.
To break the heart, to crush or overwhelm (one) with grief.
To break a house (Law), to remove or set aside with
violence and a felonious intent any part of a house or of
the fastenings provided to secure it.
To break the ice, to get through first difficulties; to
overcome obstacles and make a beginning; to introduce a
To break jail, to escape from confinement in jail, usually
by forcible means.
To break a jest, to utter a jest. "Patroclus . . . the
livelong day breaks scurril jests." --Shak.
To break joints, to lay or arrange bricks, shingles, etc.,
so that the joints in one course shall not coincide with
those in the preceding course.
To break a lance, to engage in a tilt or contest.
To break the neck, to dislocate the joints of the neck.
To break no squares, to create no trouble. [Obs.]
To break a path, road, etc., to open a way through
obstacles by force or labor.
To break upon a wheel, to execute or torture, as a criminal
by stretching him upon a wheel, and breaking his limbs
with an iron bar; -- a mode of punishment formerly
employed in some countries.
To break wind, to give vent to wind from the anus.
Syn: To dispart; rend; tear; shatter; batter; violate;
infringe; demolish; destroy; burst; dislocate.
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