break it down
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1. verb Of a machine, to malfunction or break altogether. I'm afraid the blender is breaking down. It stopped working again today. She didn't come to the party because her car broke down on the way here.
2. verb To fail or cease. Negotiations have broken down again, and I'm starting to worry that we'll never reach an agreement for a new contract.
3. verb To destroy a physical structure. In this usage, a noun can be used between "break" and "down." I'll break this door down if you don't come out here right now!
4. verb To dismantle a societal obstacle. In this usage, a noun can be used between "break" and "down." We owe a lot to the pioneering activists of earlier eras, who battled prejudice and broke down barriers.
5. verb To lose control of one's emotions, often sadness, especially after trying not to or after an intense buildup. My mother seemed fine this morning, but she completely broke down at the funeral and cried through the whole thing.
6. verb To methodically explain something step by step. In this usage, a noun can be used between "break" and "down." Can you break down the healthcare proposal to me? I'm not very well informed about it.
7. verb To reduce something to its component parts. In this usage, a noun can be used between "break" and "down." If you break down water, it's just hydrogen and oxygen molecules. We need to break down the equipment and pack the truck as quickly as possible once the gig is over.
8. verb To get someone else to do what one wants, often by coercion. In this usage, a noun is typically used between "break" and "down." I'll threaten him if I have to—anything to break him down and get that classified information from him. The prosecutor was able to break down the defendant until he confessed.
9. verb To give in to pressure; to acquiesce. If we keep asking mom and dad to get pizza, eventually they'll break down and order it.
10. noun A state of collapse that is typically induced by some form of stress. In this usage, the phrase is typically written as one word. Once I learned the extent of my injuries, I had a complete breakdown and didn't leave my room for weeks. The coup was followed by a complete societal breakdown. The breakdown of our supply line was caused by an excessive demand.
11. noun A methodical, step-by-step explanation of something. In this usage, the phrase is typically written as one word. Can you give me a breakdown of the healthcare proposal? I'm not very well informed about it.
12. An itemized list. In this usage, the phrase is typically written as one word. We'd like to see a breakdown of the bill so we can see everything we've been charged for.
break it down
1. To explain something in steps. I know it can be confusing, but once I break it down for you, I think you'll start to get it.
2. Stop! Quit it! Primarily heard in Australia. You guys are making too much noise—break it down!
break it down!stop it! desist! Australian informal
See also: break