break in(redirected from break-ins)
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1. verb To force entry into something, often a building. They called the police as soon as they heard someone break in downstairs. I had to break in—I didn't have my house key, and no one else was home!
2. verb To interrupt someone or something. I'm sorry to break in, but I have some information that might help. Mom is always using the phone in her office to break in on my conversations!
3. verb To use an object or item enough that it begins to feel comfortable or be more easily usable. Often said of shoes. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "break" and "in." It took a while to break in my new leather boots, but they sure are comfy now.
4. verb To teach or train someone to do a new job or task and thereby raise their level of experience beyond that of a novice. Don't worry, I'll break in the new hire before I assign her to your project.
5. verb To destroy a physical structure. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "break" and "in." I'll break this door in if you don't come out here right now!
6. noun An instance of forced entry into something, often a building. In this usage, the phrase is usually hyphenated. This neighborhood has had a lot of break-ins recently. A shattered window is often evidence of a break-in.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
break someone in
to train someone to do a new job; to supervise someone who is learning to do a new job. Who will break the new employee in? I have to break in a new receptionist.
break something in
1. Lit. to crush or batter something to pieces; to break something down. Why are you breaking the door in? Here's the key! Who broke in the door?
2. Fig. to use a new device until it runs well and smoothly; to wear shoes, perhaps a little at a time, until they feel comfortable. I can't drive at high speed until I break this car in. I want to go out this weekend and break in the car. The new shoes hurt her feet because they were not yet broken in.
break in (to something or some place)
to force entry into a place criminally; to enter some place forcibly for the purpose of robbery or other illegal acts. The thugs broke into the liquor store. They broke in and took all the money.
break in(on someone)
1. to burst into a place and violate some one's privacy. The police broke in on him at his home and arrested him. They needed a warrant to break in.
2. to interrupt someone's conversation. (See also break in (on something).) If you need to talk to me, just break in on me. Feel free to break in if it's an emergency.
(on something) to interrupt something; to intrude upon something. (See also break in (on someone).) I didn't mean to break in on your discussion. Please don't break in on us just now. This is important.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
1. Enter by force, as in The thieves broke in through the back door. [Mid-1500s]Also see break into.
2. Also, break in on. Interrupt or disturb something unexpectedly, as in His assistant broke in with the bad news just as we were ready to sign the agreement, or He broke in on our private talks. [Mid-1600s]
3. Train or instruct someone in a new job or enterprise, as in Every semester she had to break in a new teaching assistant. [Late 1700s]
4. Loosen or soften with use, as in It takes a while to break in a pair of new shoes.
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 a place forcibly or illegally: While we were out of the house, a thief tried to break in.
2. To interrupt a conversation or discussion: We were talking about the weather when my friend broke in and said it was time to leave.
3. To loosen or soften something with use: I need to break in my new boots before I take any long hikes.
4. To train or domesticate an animal: Be sure to break in your puppies at an early age. The horses were very good to ride once the trainer had broken them in.
5. To accustom someone to a new task: The sergeant broke in the new recruits to the army way of life. It was hard to keep up with the work, but my colleagues broke me in gradually.
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.