Expressions in English that use the word "break" (episode 36)

Presentamos un podcast que enseña inglés intermedio para ellos que hablan español.  Este artículo explica varios modismos relacionados con "break."

1. Breaking out - Breaking out means to leave the normal space behind, either literally or figuratively. It can be negative or positive in meaning.

      Geraldine’s skin is breaking out - She has bumps and protrusions on her skin because of acne. 


     Ricky Martin started breaking out of the Spanish-only market in 1999 with English hits like “Living La Vida Loca” and “She Bangs.”

Example of use like this one on Youtube:

It is also very popular to use “to break out” when someone escapes incarceration. 

      El Chapo broke out of prison by driving a motorcycle through an underground tunnel.

 2. Breaking - tending towards a direction away from the default

      The hurricane is breaking towards the west and will hit Bermuda.

      The voters are breaking towards the Republicans due to scandals of the Democratic incumbent.

      In this context, “Breaking Bad” (the famous show about the chemistry teacher who becomes a drug dealer) as a phrase means that Walter White is tending or heading towards the direction of evil.

 3. Make a break for it – to run from danger when it is uncertain if you might be caught and captured.

      Although the bully had Herbert trapped in the alley, he decided to make a break for it (run to escape) when the woman opened the door into the alley to empty her trash cans.

 4. Take a break – to rest during work

      At 3:15, the workers take a break for 15 minutes.

 5. Breaking news – News that is recent and changing rapidly

      The local news channel announced the breaking news that a man had brought a fox and a coyote to a city council meeting.  He was arrested.

Example of this expression in use: (her name is Amelia Earhart!!)

 6. Break up – to end a relationship OR to break into smaller pieces

      Robert and Sherry break up all the time and then get back together.  I am so tired of it.

      I can’t use the pieces of chocolate in the recipe until I break them up into smaller pieces.

 7. Break in (or, in example 1, break into)– to force your way inside of a place BUT ALSO to make something more comfortable to use or wear

      When I was younger I had to break in to (into) my own car sometimes because I often put my car keys in my backpack but left my backpack in the back seat!

      When I first put on my baseball glove, it bothered me to wear it.  After several practices, however, it was broken in and it was much more comfortable to play with it on my hand.

 8. Break down – something mechanical, often a car, OR to digest or process something into smaller and smaller pieces or components.

      The diesel engine that boils the water in this original part of the factory breaks down so frequently!  I suggest that the owners find a more modern solution.

      When a spider eats it victims, it covers them in acid from its stomach.  The acids break down the creature into a kind of soup that is easy for the spider to ingest.

Finally, a word about homophones, or two words that sound alike.  In audio, you may hear the word “brake,” as in “braking,” “the brakes,” “braked,” etc.  These uses have to do with the word “frenar” or “freno” in Spanish.  One must listen for context clues to determine if the word in use is “break” or “brake.” 😊


There are many other uses of “break” that can be found on this excellent webpage:




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