break off


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Financial, Acronyms, Encyclopedia.
Related to break off: broke off

break off

1. To physically separate from something. Those bricks in the yard must have broken off the chimney. The antenna just broke off in my hand as I was trying to extend it from the radio.
2. To cause something to physically separate from something else. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can used between "break" and "off." He broke off a piece of the cookie and handed it to me. The contractor must have broken these bricks off the chimney while he was fixing the roof.
3. To fail or cease abruptly. Did you hear that negotiations have broken off again?
4. To end a relationship, typically a romantic one. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "break" and "off." I'm so sad to hear that Mara broke things off with John—I thought those two would be together forever.
See also: break, off
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

break something off (of) something

 and break something off
to fracture or dislodge a piece off something. (Of is usually retained before pronouns.) He broke a piece of the decorative stone off the side of the church. He didn't mean to break off anything. This fragment was broken off of that.
See also: break, off

break something off

 
1. to end a relationship abruptly. I knew she was getting ready to break it off, but Tom didn't. After a few long and bitter arguments, they broke off their relationship.
2. Go to break something off (of) something.
See also: break, off

break off (with someone)

 and break with someone
to end communication with someone; to break up (with someone); to end a relationship with someone, especially a romantic relationship, or to create a break between adult members of a family. Terri has broken off with Sam. We thought she would break with him pretty soon.
See also: break, off

break off

(from something) [for a piece of something] to become separated from the whole. This broke off from the lamp. What shall I do with it? This piece broke off.
See also: break, off
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

break off

1. Stop abruptly, as in The trade talks broke off yesterday. [First half of 1300s]
2. Separate, sever a connection, as in The baby broke off the tops of all the flowers, or The new sect has broken off from the established church. [First half of 1500s]
3. End a relationship or friendship, as in Mary broke off her engagement to Rob. [Mid-1600s]
See also: break, off
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.

break off

v.
1. To separate a piece of something from some whole, especially by force: We broke the icicles off the gutters of the house. I broke off a piece of chocolate and gave it to my friend. The truck hit my rearview mirror and broke it off.
2. To become separated from some whole: A large piece of ice broke off the iceberg and crashed into the water. I dropped my coffee mug and the handle broke off.
3. To stop or end suddenly. Especially used of communication: He began the first line of his speech and then mysteriously broke off. Unfortunately, the peace talks between the countries broke off.
4. To end some relationship: Although I am angry, I do not want to break off my long relationship with you. The countries broke off all diplomatic ties and went to war.
See also: break, off
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.
See also:
References in periodicals archive ?
President Bush's special adviser on the North, Richard Haas, said he expects the IRA to break off all relationships with terrorist groups.
A huge iceberg more than 5,000 sq km, almost the size of Delaware, is ready to break off from the ice shelf, satellite observations this month show.
Several research groups have observed that when chitinase and certain other enzymes are present, tiny chunks of fungal cell walls break off. But this is only indirect evidence and does not pinpoint chitinase as the fungus fighter, says Angela Schlumbaum, who authored the report with Felix Mauch, Urs Vogeli and Thomas Boller, all from the Botanical Institute of the University of Basel.
The enormous piece of ice, almost the size of the state of Delaware, will soon break off of the Larsen C ice shelf after a rift rapidly grew in December.
In another daily cycle of the retina (left, X13,000), the tips of lizard photoreceptor cells break off. The tip is then engulfed by a cleanup cell (arrow, lower left, X4,500).
But in some people an out-of-kilter clotting mechanism forms clots that break off. A wandering clot can cause great pain if it lodges in a leg, and it can cause death if it lodges in the lung.