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Extremely difficult; exhausting; mentally and/or physically taxing to the point of feeling like one's body or spirit will break. Though usually used in reference to physical labor, it can refer figuratively to any job, activity, or task. After 10 years of back-breaking labor in construction, I've decided to finally pursue academia. We put in months of back-breaking work to get ready for our exams in May.
1. Literally, to stop walking or marching in unison with others. Come on, Tommy, don't break step! This band formation has to look perfect at the football game on Saturday!
2. By extension, to break from conformity with a larger group or others who one previously agreed with. The eminent scientist broke step with the research team by suggesting an entirely different conclusion about the data.
Innovative and unprecedented. The narration in this novel is truly ground-breaking—I've never read anything like it! We've had some really ground-breaking legislation this year that will influence the laws in this nation for decades to come.
Deeply upsetting or causing great sadness. Watching my grandmother endure this horrible illness has been just heartbreaking. Have you see that new movie? It's so heartbreaking, I cried the whole time!
breaking and entering
the crime of forcing one's way into a place. (A criminal charge.) Wilbur was charged with four counts of breaking and entering. It was not an act of breaking and entering. The thief just opened the door and walked right in.
1. Lit. the point at which something will break. The mule's back was strained to the breaking point with masses of bundles and straw.
2. Fig. the point at which nerves or one's mental state can endure no more. My nerves are at the breaking point.
You cannot make an omelet without breaking eggs.
Prov. In order to get something good or useful, you must give up something else. Jill: Why do they have to tear down that beautiful old building to build an office park? Jane: You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs. Alan: We may make more money by raising our prices, but we'll also upset a lot of customers. Fred: You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs.
It's/You're breaking my heart!(humorous)
something that you say in order to tell someone you do not feel sad about an event or situation 'Things are so bad right now she's had to sell one of her houses.' 'You're breaking my heart!'
See also: breaking
You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs.
something that you say which means it is difficult to achieve something important without causing any unpleasant effects Twenty jobs will have to be cut if the company's going to be made more efficient. But you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs.