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Break Out

Video footage: 1970s - Riots break out in India in 1971 over the situation in Bangladesh.
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Definition of the verb break out

What does break out mean as a doing phrase?


  1. start abruptly
  2. begin suddenly and sometimes violently
    • lexical domain: Change - verbs of size, temperature change, intensifying, etc.
    • more generic words: begin / start = have a beginning, in a temporal, spatial, or evaluative sense
  3. move away or escape suddenly
    • example: Nobody can break out--this prison is high security
    • lexical domain: Motions - verbs of walking, flying, swimming
    • synonyms of break out: break / break away
    • more generic terms: break loose / escape / get away = run away from confinement
  4. take from stowage in preparation for use
    • lexical domain: Contact - verbs of touching, hitting, tying, digging
    • more generic terms: take out / unpack = remove from its packing
  5. become raw or open
    • syntax:
      Syntactic formulaExample for the syntactic formula
      [Agent - intentional control] [Verb] [Patient]Tony broke the window
      [Agent - intentional control] [Verb] [Patient] [Adjective]Tony broke the piggy bank open
      [Agent - intentional control] [Verb] [Patient] [Adjective] with [Instrument]Tony broke the piggy bank open with a hammer
      [Agent - intentional control] [Verb] [Patient] to / into [Oblique, state]Tony broke the glass to pieces
      [Agent - intentional control] [Verb] [Patient] to / into [Oblique, state] with [Instrument]Tony broke the glass to pieces with a hammer
      [Agent - intentional control] [Verb] [Patient] with [Instrument]Carol crushed the ice with a hammer | Tony broke the window with a hammer
      [Instrument - solid] [Verb] [Patient]The hammer broke the window | The hammer crushed the marble
      [Patient - solid] [Verb]The window broke
      [Patient - solid] [Verb] [Adverb]Copper rods bend easily | Cotton clothes dry easily | Crystal vases break easily | Idaho potatoes bake beautifully
      [Patient - solid] [Verb] to / into [Oblique, state]The glass broke into a thousand pieces

      Verbs of Change of State (with the same syntax): break, break apart, break down, break up, chip, cleave, crack, crash, crush, dissolve, fracture, fragment, rend, rip, rive, shatter, shred, sliver, smash, snap, splinter, split, tear.

    • lexical domain: Change - verbs of size, temperature change, intensifying, etc.
    • synonyms of break out: erupt / recrudesce
    • more generic words: ail / pain / trouble = cause bodily suffering to and make sick or indisposed

Alternative definition of the verb break out


  1. [intransitive] To escape, especially forcefully or defiantly.
  2. [transitive] [idiomatic] to bring out, use, or present
  3. [transitive] to separate from a bundle
  4. [intransitive] To begin suddenly; to emerge in a certain condition.
  5. [intransitive] To suddenly get pimples, especially on one's face.

Printed dictionaries and other books with definitions for Break Out

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Google previewFuldstaendigt Dansk og Engelsk haand-lexicon (1824)

udarbeidet efter de bedste og nyeste ordb√łger by Christian Friderich Bay

out, break out, appear. (som Dagen) to peep. Frembyde, to ofler, present, tender. Frembydning, Offer, Tender, Presentation. Frembygning, a Jutting Leaning out in a Building. Fremdeles, furthermore, moraCDU over, henceforward , sarther, ...

Google previewUseful Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs (2017)

by Martin Manser

break out (intransitive, adverb) 1 start or arise suddenly, especially of fire, disease or war: It is believed ...

Google previewA Dictionary of English Synonymes and Synonymous Or Parallel Expressions Designed as a Practical Guide to Aptness and Variety of Phraseology (1891)

by Richard Soule

Issue, burst out, break out. Break ground Begin, commence operations. Break in.

Google previewCambridge Dictionary of American Idioms (2003)

by Paul Heacock

break out 1 to begin suddenly ...

Google previewEtymologicon universale; or, Universal etymological dictionary: on a new plan (1822)

by Walter Whiter

Ruo is explained by Robert Ainsworth in the second sense, "To Bush, to run headlong, to Break out with violence." Break with violence is the original idea of the term ; and Rush, we see, belongs to this race of words. Ruo is used in its primitive ...

Online dictionaries and encyclopedias with entries for Break Out

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Usage statistics about break out

The following statistics are based on the British National Corpus, so they are representative for the British English from the later part of the 20th century, both spoken and written.

Distribution of usage frequency for the most common synonyms of the verb break out:


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See also the pronunciation examples of Break Out!

Quotes about Break Out

Now dance till you can not dance anymore.

You deserve to have a litttle break every so often.
Enjoy life and laugh and smile.
Go have some fun and be happy.
Break out of his capture and go get your prize of fun. (Christina J. Williams)
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Anagrams of BREAK OUT

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