break neck

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break (one's) neck

1. To put forth a great deal of effort. I've been breaking my neck trying to get a passing grade this semester, so failing by two measly points is incredibly frustrating. Don't break your neck trying to please these people—they'll never appreciate it.
2. To harm or punish one very severely. Typically used as a warning or a threat. Be careful—the boss will break your neck if he catches you using company property like that. You just watch yourself, pal. If I see you snooping around here again, I'll break your neck!
See also: break, neck
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

break one's neck (to do something)

 and break one's back (to do something)
Fig. to work very hard to accomplish something. I broke my neck to get here on time. There is no point in breaking your back. Take your time.
See also: break, neck
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

break (one's) neck

To make the utmost possible effort.
See also: break, neck
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

break one's neck, to

To hurry as fast as one can, to proceed with reckless speed. The same idea is conveyed by breakneck pace, the word breakneck dating from the sixteenth century. At that time, however, to break someone’s neck also meant to overpower or overwhelm them. This was Sir Geoffrey Fenton’s meaning when he wrote, “To breake the necke of the wicked purposes and plots of the French” (The History of Guicciardini, 1579).
See also: break, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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