break bad

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break bad (third-person singular simple present breaks bad, present participle breaking bad, simple past broke bad, past participle broken bad)

  1. (colloquial, of an event or of one's fortunes) To go wrong; to go downhill. [from 1908]
    • 1908, Rex Beach, The barrier, page 212:
      "A woman came out from the East—Vermont, it was—and school-teaching was her line of business, only she hadn't been raised to it, and this was her first clatter at the game; but things had broke bad for her people, and ended in her pulling stakes and coming West all alone.
    • 1913, William MacLeod Raine, Crooked trials and straight[1], page 134:
      Half the bad men are only coltish cowpunchers gone wrong through rotten whiskey and luck breaking bad for them.
    • For more quotations using this term, see Citations:break bad.
  2. (colloquial, especially Southern US and Midwestern US, of a person) To go bad; to turn toward immorality or crime.
    Synonyms: go bad, go astray
    Antonym: turn over a new leaf
    • 2005, Will D. Campbell, The Glad River, →ISBN, page 18:
      But somehow he broke bad when he was just a yearling boy, started running around at night with a bad crowd, drinking beer and wine, and fighting and getting in all kinds of trouble and wouldn't go to school.
    • 2008, “Pilot”, in Breaking Bad, spoken by Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul):
      Nah, come on, man! Some straight like you, giant stick up his ass, all of a sudden at age, what, sixty, he's just gonna break bad?
    • 2012, John Grisham, The Racketeer, →ISBN:
      My nephew was breaking bad, getting deeper into the crack trade, []
    • For more quotations using this term, see Citations:break bad.

Related terms[edit]