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1. To force entry into a physical structure, often a building. They called the police as soon as they heard someone break into their house. I had to break into the house—I didn't have my key, and no one else was home!
2. To forcibly access something (often a computer system) that one is prohibited from. Someone must be breaking into our system—how else would the media know such classified information?
3. To interrupt something. I'm sorry to break into your conversation, but I have some information that might help.
4. To establish a career in a particular industry or profession. She may be a successful actor now, but it took her years to break into the industry.
5. To suddenly perform a particular action. My friends and I love theater, so you can always count on someone just breaking into song. My mother was fine this morning, but she broke into tears at the funeral.
6. To split into smaller pieces. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "break" and "into." I know the project is daunting, but let's break it into manageable parts that each of us can work on. Because there was only one cookie left, I broke it into pieces so each of the kids could have some. The vase hit the floor and broke into pieces.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
break into something
to begin to perform or utter suddenly, especially with song, speech, chattering, tears, etc. Suddenly, she broke into song. As soon as the movie started, the people behind me broke into loud chattering.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
1. Make a forcible entry into, as in The alarm went off as soon as they tried to break into the house. [1300s] Also see break in, def. 1.
2. Interrupt, as in I couldn't help but break into your conversation. [Mid-1600s]
3. Suddenly begin some activity, as in Without warning she broke into tears. Also see under burst into.
4. Enter or be admitted to an occupation or profession, as in Without connections it is virtually impossible to break into acting. [Late 1800s]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
1. To enter some place forcibly: Someone broke into our house while we were gone and stole our TV.
2. To access a computer or computer network illegally or maliciously: We believe spies are breaking into the government's computer files.
3. To interrupt something: I'm sorry that I have to break into your nap, but it's important that I speak to you now.
4. To begin to do something suddenly: The horse broke into a wild gallop. The upset child broke into a flood of tears.
5. To enter some established profession or field of activity: The young writer broke into journalism right after college.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.