break down


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break down (and cry)

to surrender to demands or emotions and cry. Max finally broke down and confessed. I was afraid I would break down and cry from the sadness I felt.
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break someone down

to force someone to give up and tell secrets or agree to do something. After threats of torture, they broke the spy down. They broke down the agent by threatening violence.
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break something down

 
1. Lit. to tear something down; to destroy something. They used an ax to break the door down. We broke down the wall with big hammers.
2. Fig. to destroy a social or legal barrier. The court broke a number of legal barriers down this week. They had to break down many social prejudices to manage to succeed.
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break something down

(for someone) Fig. to explain something to someone in simple terms or in an orderly fashion. (Alludes to breaking a complex problem into smaller segments which can be explained more easily. See also break something down (into something).) She doesn't understand. You will have to break it down for her. I can help. This is a confusing question. Let me break down the problem for you.
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break something down

 (into something)
1. to reduce a compound or its structure to its components. Heat will break this down into sodium and a few gases. Will heat break down this substance into anything useful? We broke it into little pieces.
2. to reduce a large numerical total to its subparts and explain each one. She broke the total down into its components. Please break down the total into its parts again. I'll break the total down for you.
3. to discuss the details of something by examining its subparts. (See also break something down (for someone).) Let's break this problem down into its parts and deal with each one separately. Breaking down complex problems into their components is almost fun. Let's break this issue down and discuss it.
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break down

1. to stop working Sometimes the heating system simply breaks down. Talks between the two countries broke down.
2. to become very emotional I didn't know anyone who was killed, but I still broke down and cried when I heard about the bombings.
3. to lose strength or determination He didn't want to go, but in April he broke down and accompanied his wife and two children to Disneyland.
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break down somebody

also break somebody down
1. to weaken someone I felt so good, I felt like nothing could break me down or make me sick.
2. to cause someone to become emotional Andy broke down and cried several times during his retirement speech.
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break down something

also break something down
1. to divide something into smaller parts The quickest way to get this job done is to break it down into a number of specific steps.
2. to explain something Let me break it down for you - when a dog shows its teeth, it's about to attack you.
3. to cause something to weaken or decay Temperatures were high enough to break down the chemicals. One sniff of that chocolate was enough to break down my determination not to eat sweets.
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break down

1. Demolish, destroy, either physically or figuratively, as in The carpenters broke down the partition between the bedrooms, or The governor's speeches broke down the teachers' opposition to school reform. [Late 1300s]
2. Separate into constituent parts, analyze. For example, I insisted that they break down the bill into the separate charges for parts and labor, or The chemist was trying to break down the compound's molecules. [Mid-1800s]
3. Stop functioning, cease to be effective or operable, as in The old dishwasher finally broke down. [Mid-1800s]
4. Become distressed or upset; also, have a physical or mental collapse, as in The funeral was too much for her and she broke down in tears, or After seeing all his work come to nothing, he broke down and had to be treated by a psychiatrist . [Late 1800s]
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break down

v.
1. To cause something to collapse, especially by hitting it: The firefighters broke down the door of the burning house. The bulldozer pushed at the old wall and broke it down.
2. To collapse, especially as a result of force or pressure; give way: The door finally broke down after I kept hitting it with a club.
3. To cause someone to stop resisting, especially by force or pressure: The police will break you down and make you talk.
4. To stop resisting; accede: My friends kept pleading with me to go to the beach, so I finally broke down and went along with them.
5. To destroy or remove something, especially something viewed as a problem: This political party hopes to break down the barriers between social classes. Let's identify the obstacles and break them down.
6. To stop functioning: The elevator broke down, so please use the stairs.
7. To be a passenger in a vehicle that stops functioning: We're late because we broke down just outside the city.
8. To fail despite effort; come to a stop: The negotiations between the warring nations broke down, and the fighting continued.
9. To suffer an emotional or mental collapse: The stress of my new job was so high that I eventually broke down and couldn't go to work for days.
10. To separate something into parts; take something apart: When the carnival was over, we broke down all the tents. The workers broke down the equipment and put it into storage.
11. To examine or explain something by looking at its parts; analyze something: Break down your story into its main themes and write each part separately. This problem looks very difficult, but if we break it down, it becomes easy to solve.
12. To be divisible into smaller parts: The population of the city breaks down into three main groups: the poor, the rich, and the middle class.
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References in periodicals archive ?
But given time and control over the process," he adds, "these daughter products do break down into environmentally benign substances, a process which can be monitored using a gas chromatograph.
Today, microbial fuel cells are being explored primarily as a power source for remote sensors and for wastewater treatment, in which the bacteria that break down sewage generate sufficient electricity to run the treatment plant.
Upon entrance into the machine, the media starts to break down the sand lumps while protecting the castings from the tumbling action.
Once swallowed, the worms most likely drowned in his stomach's digestive juices, the chemicals that break down food.
Many researchers had previously suspected that anaerobic microbes generate too little cellular energy, in the form of the molecule ATP, to efficiently break down cellulose.
For their part, Wong and his colleagues are experimenting with nanosize metallic particles that could theoretically break down soil and groundwater contaminants faster and more cheaply than the existing technologies can.
As other ethanol engines break down and have to be rebuilt, they too will be converted to diesel.
He will break down the thought process, strategy, and twists and turns as they unfold, in the quest to lay down a winning hand in poker's premiere event -- and stay alive in the quest to walk away with an estimated $10 million in cash and the title of World Series of Poker Champion.
A human gene that Japanese researchers have inserted into rice enables the plant to break down a portfolio of chemicals now used on farms to kill weeds.
How many times longer does It take a plastic bag to break down than wool gloves?
These vitamins help the enzymes to break down homocysteine.
As the bacteria grow, those that break down caffeine the fastest will outperform the others.
They thrive anaerobically (without oxygen) and produce enzymes (proteins) that break down plant matter like cellulose and fiber.