Definition of break noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



; breɪk

short stop/pause

1 [countable] a short period of time when you stop what you are doing and rest, eat, etca coffee/lunch/tea breakLet's take a break.a break for lunchShe worked all day without a break.2 (also break time) (both British English) (North American English recess) [uncountable] a period of time between lessons at schoolCome and see me at break.3 [countable] a pause or period of time when something stops before starting againa break in my daily routineShe wanted to take a career break in order to have children.4 [countable] a pause for advertisements in the middle of a television or radio programmeMore news after the break.


5 [countable] a short holiday/vacationWe had a weekend break in New York.a well-earned break

change in situation

6 [singular] the moment when a situation or a relationship that has existed for a time changes, ends or is interruptedbreak (with somebody/something) He needed to make a complete break with the past.a break with tradition/convention(= a change from what is accepted, in something such as art, behaviour, etc.)break (in something) a break in the weather(= a change from one type of weather to a different one)a break in diplomatic relations


7 [countable] break (in something) a space or an opening between two or more thingsWe could see the moon through a break in the clouds.Wait for a break in the traffic before crossing the road.


8 [countable] (informal) an opportunity to do something, usually to get something that you want or to achieve successI got my lucky break when I won a ‘Young Journalist of the Year’ competition.We've had a few bad breaks (= pieces of bad luck) along the way.If you just give me a break, you won't regret it.

of bone

9 [countable] a place where something, especially a bone in your body, has brokenThe X-ray showed there was no break in his leg.

in tennis

10 (also break of serve) [countable] a win in a game in which your opponent is servingIt was her second break in the set.break point(= a situation in which, if you win the next point, you win the game)

in billiards/snooker

11 [countable] a series of successful shots by one player; the number of points scored in a series of successful shotsHe's put together a magnificent break.a 147 break (= the highest possible break in snooker )The champion began with breaks of 74 and 58.

break of day/dawn

(literary) the moment in the early hours of the morning when it begins to get light

give me a break!

(informal) used when somebody wants somebody else to stop doing or saying something that is annoying, or to stop saying something that is not true

give somebody a break

to give somebody a chance; to not judge somebody too severely
Give the lad a break—it's only his second day on the job.

make a break for something/for it

to run towards something in order to try and escape
He suddenly leapt up and made a break for the door.They decided to make a break for it (= to try and escape) that night.
more at a clean break at clean adjectiveUsage noteUsage note: restbreak respite time out breathing spaceThese are all words for a short period of time spent a period of relaxing, sleeping or doing nothing after a period of activity:We stopped for a well-earned rest.break a short period of time when you stop what you are doing and rest or eat:Let's take a break. In British English break is a period of time between lessons at school. The North American English word is recess.respite a short break from something difficult or unpleasant:The drug brought a brief respite from the pain.time out (informal, especially North American English) time for resting or relaxing away from your usual work or studies:Take time out to relax by the pool.breathing space a short rest in the middle of a period of mental or physical effort:This delay gives the party a breathing space in which to sort out its policies.(a) rest/break/respite/time out from somethingto have/take (a) rest/break/time outto give somebody (a) rest/break/respite/breathing space