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broken record

A person or thing that repeats itself over and over again. Likened to vinyl records that when severely scratched (i.e., "broken") can loop over the same recorded segment endlessly. I feel like a broken record having to tell you this each day, but please clean your room!
See also: broken, record

broken vessel

Someone who is or feels completely destroyed, hollow, forsaken, or inadequate. Taken from the biblical symbolism of a person being a vessel into which God fills divine wisdom and grace. I have no one who cares about me, and I have no job or prospects. I'm feeling like a broken vessel these days.
See also: broken, vessel


Very sad, typically due to a tragic event or the end of a romantic relationship. I feel awful for Alex—she has just been so broken-hearted since Marissa broke up with her. Debbie is just broken-hearted over the death of her son, and I have no idea how to console her.

rules are made to be broken

A phrase used to justify one's rebellious actions. A: "But we're not allowed to go into the faculty lounge!" B: "Oh, come on, rules are made to be broken."
See also: broken, made, rule

broken dreams

wishes or desires that cannot be fulfilled. We all have our share of broken dreams, but they were never all meant to come true anyway.
See also: broken, dream

broken reed

an unreliable or undependable person. (On the image of a useless, broken reed in a reed instrument.) You can't rely on Jim's support. He's a broken reed. Mr. Smith is a broken reed. His deputy has to make all the decisions.
See also: broken, reed

die of a broken heart

Fig. to die of emotional distress. I was not surprised to hear of her death. They say she died of a broken heart. In the movie, the heroine appeared to die of a broken heart, but the audience knew she was poisoned.
See also: broken, die, heart, of

Promises are like piecrust, made to be broken.

Prov. It is useless to make promises, because people always break their promises. Lisa made Andrew promise not to drink anymore, but promises are like piecrust, made to be broken.
See also: broken, like, made, Promise

sound like a broken record

to say the same thing over and over again. (Fig. on a scratch in a phonograph record causing the needle [or stylus] to stay in the same groove and play it over and over.) He's always complaining about the way she treats him. He sounds like a broken record! I hate to sound like a broken record, but we just don't have enough people on the payroll to work effciently.
See also: broken, like, record, sound

break someone's heart

Cause severe emotional pain or grief. For example, If the verdict is guilty, it will break her mother's heart. This hyperbole has appeared in works by Chaucer, Shakespeare, and George Bernard Shaw, among others. In noun form it appears as both a broken heart and heartbreak (Shaw wrote a play entitled Heartbreak House, 1913). Today it also is used ironically, as in You only scored an A-minus on the final? That breaks my heart! [Late 1300s]
See also: break, heart

broken reed

A weak or unreliable support, as in I'd counted on her to help, but she turned out to be a broken reed. The idea behind this idiom, first recorded about 1593, was already present in a mid-15th-century translation of a Latin tract, "Trust not nor lean not upon a windy reed."
See also: broken, reed

like a broken record

To repeat and repeat ad nauseam. Vinyl records, as those readers who remember them will recall, have spiraling grooves in which the photograph needle picked up the sound. When a groove developed a crack or other imperfection, the needle became stuck and the sound kept repeating until someone moved the phonograph arm to the next groove. The expression was applied to anyone who repeated a remark or request over and over until it sounded like a broken record . . . a broken record . . . a broken record.
See also: broken, like, record
References in periodicals archive ?
It was predicted that the guilt, sorrow, and brokenness scenarios would yield more positive estimates of outcome than the shame scenario.
This means that both the stranger to the gospel and the one who once believed it but now is plagued by doubt and despair, who dare to join the Christian assembly in worship, would hear the truth about the human condition: sin and brokenness are real as we stand before God, and Jesus Christ becomes the victim of human sin and brokenness in order that life and freedom might be ours.
Even the people who look physically perfect on the outside harbor an intricate beauty and brokenness somewhere on the inside.
Fragments function as textual poetics, yet this text takes enormous pleasure in its brokenness.
They use words such as sin, brokenness, and redemption and assert that power from God must be brought to bear to effect healing and change.
Now, pushed by his new girlfriend who wants to know more about his family and doesn't understand the extent of its brokenness, Charlie is having reoccurring nightmares about an attacking, life-sized beetle.
As art, the world, and self converge, continuity and brokenness, symmetrical progression, life and death, pain and hope can be viewed within a broader aesthetic reality (6).
To check for any social consequence of sporting lots of wavy spots, Tibbetts dabbed model-airplane paint onto wasp faces to increase or decrease spot brokenness.
I suggest that we begin to look again at the bases of social brokenness.
Likewise, there is certainly some truth in the claims of those who suggest that the mere invocation of the tradition's language is not a sign of the tradition's health but conversely a sign of its brokenness.
LAUSD will never be ``fixed'' until the causes of its brokenness can be openly discussed.
Part 3 invites the listener to become part of this world where brokenness is healed.
She fights to see brokenness and fear in a patient's irritability and rudeness to hospital staff.
We saw and experienced the sin, the infidelity, the brokenness of individual clergy.