break (one) of (something)

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break (one) of (something)

To stop one from doing a habitual action or activity. I was able to break my sister of biting her nails by regularly taking her to get a manicure with me. I need to learn how to break a toddler of tantrums because they are a common occurrence in our house these days.
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Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

break someone or something of something

to cause someone or something to stop practicing a habit. We worked hard to break the dog of making a mess on the carpet. I don't think I can break her of the habit. Tom broke himself of biting his nails.
See also: break, of
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

break someone of something

Cause to discontinue a habit or practice, as in Mom tried for years to break Betty of biting her nails. The Oxford English Dictionary cites a quotation from W. Wotton's History of Rome (1701): "He ... broke them of their warm Baths," which presumably refers to breaking Romans of their custom of bathing regularly. Today we are more apt to break someone of a bad habit. [Early 1600s]
See also: break, of, someone, something
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.
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References in classic literature ?
Even should I break one of them with my first blow, for I figured that he would attempt to ward off the cudgel, he could reach out and annihilate me with the others before I could recover for a second attack.
She apprehended some mischief would happen to me from rude vulgar folks, who might squeeze me to death, or break one of my limbs by taking me in their hands.
Then the cruel creatures laughed, and repeated what they had said the day before; but when Ferko continued to beg and beseech them, the eldest said at last, 'If you will let us put out one of your eyes and break one of your legs, then we will give you a bit of our bread.'
Last week, I said a European team would break one of football's longest-running jinxes and win a World Cup on South American soil.
You might break one of the latches inside the housing.
Typhoon Ramasun brushed Taiwan's northeastern coasts last week, unleashing heavy downpours in northern and central Taiwan to break one of the island's worst droughts in decades.
Virgin Soldier, who runs at Chester, will be our sole representative and here again I break one of my strictest rules as he will be running from 3lb out of the handicap.
Scotland's top Catholic has given his blessing for the poor to break one of the 10 commandments.
They found that these free radicals break one of the strands of DNA and that the DNA nick is such that it takes several enzymatic steps to repair the damage.