break through(redirected from a breakthrough)
1. verb To push through a physical barrier. The protestors are threatening to break through the barricade. The wrecking ball broke through the wall of the house at the start of the renovation.
2. verb To overcome an obstacle. We owe a lot to the pioneering activists of earlier eras, who battled prejudice and broke through barriers.
3. verb To have a realization or innovation that changes how a particular issue or thing is viewed. We haven't broken through the problem that has caused our experiment to keep failing.
4. noun A realization or innovation that changes how a particular issue or thing is viewed. In this usage, the phrase is usually written as one word. Her breakthrough led the way for geneticists for decades to come.
break through (to someone or something)
to force [one's way] through an obstruction and reach someone or something on the other side. The miners broke through to their trapped friends. They broke through the thin wall easily.
1. Lit. to break something and pass through. The firefighters broke through the wall easily. The robbers broke through the glass window of the shop.
2. Fig. to overcome something. Tom was able to break through racial barriers. The scientists broke through the mystery surrounding the disease and found the cause.
Penetrate a barrier or obstruction, as in They broke through the wall to get into the vault, or It won't be long before we break through the code and map all human genes. Used literally for going through a physical barrier since about 1400, this phrase began to be used figuratively in the late 1500s.
1. To force a path through some obstruction by penetrating and breaking it: The escaping bank robbers broke through the police barricade by ramming it with their car.
2. To achieve a major success that permits further progress: With the discovery of the new drug, the scientists broke through in their fight against cancer.