break (one) of (something)

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break (one) of (something)

To stop one from doing a habitual action or activity. I was able to break my sister of biting her nails by regularly taking her to get a manicure with me. I need to learn how to break a toddler of tantrums because they are a common occurrence in our house these days.
See also: break, of

break someone or something of something

to cause someone or something to stop practicing a habit. We worked hard to break the dog of making a mess on the carpet. I don't think I can break her of the habit. Tom broke himself of biting his nails.
See also: break, of

break someone of something

Cause to discontinue a habit or practice, as in Mom tried for years to break Betty of biting her nails. The Oxford English Dictionary cites a quotation from W. Wotton's History of Rome (1701): "He ... broke them of their warm Baths," which presumably refers to breaking Romans of their custom of bathing regularly. Today we are more apt to break someone of a bad habit. [Early 1600s]
See also: break, of, someone, something
References in classic literature ?
Even should I break one of them with my first blow, for I figured that he would attempt to ward off the cudgel, he could reach out and annihilate me with the others before I could recover for a second attack.
She apprehended some mischief would happen to me from rude vulgar folks, who might squeeze me to death, or break one of my limbs by taking me in their hands.
Then the cruel creatures laughed, and repeated what they had said the day before; but when Ferko continued to beg and beseech them, the eldest said at last, 'If you will let us put out one of your eyes and break one of your legs, then we will give you a bit of our bread.
You might break one of the latches inside the housing.
The sophomore forward withstood the pain long enough to break one of Hart's most prestigious records - and the Centurions' spirit - all with one shot.
A French diver drowned last year trying to break one of Tanya's records.
Virgin Soldier, who runs at Chester, will be our sole representative and here again I break one of my strictest rules as he will be running from 3lb out of the handicap.
They found that these free radicals break one of the strands of DNA and that the DNA nick is such that it takes several enzymatic steps to repair the damage.
By combining the Eppendorf 5 Prime chemistry with Zymark's high throughput, automation expertise, we can offer customers a total solution that really works to break one of the biggest bottlenecks in genomics research today -- DNA isolation and purification.
LANCASTER - It's a fundamental of the game: Break one of baseball's unwritten rules - perceived or otherwise - and pay the price.
Streaming Champagne represents W3-design's vow to break one of the major bottlenecks on the Internet and ensure that we can truly offer liquid, living sites to every Web visitor," said Michael Mascha, president and creative director, W3-design.
What the Maris-bashers didn't grasp was that he wasn't claiming to be the greatest baseball player of all time, he was only proposing to break one of his records.
There were plenty of times I thought we'd lose the television or break one of mom's vases.