break off

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See also: breakoff and break-off



From Middle English breke of (break off, terminate), a dissimilated form of earlier Middle English ofbreken, equivalent to break +‎ off.


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

  1. To end abruptly, either temporarily or permanently.
    • 1898, J. Meade Falkner, chapter 4, in Moonfleet, London; Toronto, Ont.: Jonathan Cape, published 1934:
      Then the conversation broke off, and there was little more talking, only a noise of men going backwards and forwards, and of putting down of kegs and the hollow gurgle of good liquor being poured from breakers into the casks.
  2. To end a relationship.
    Both families want the lovers to break off any relationship they may have.
  3. To remove a piece from a whole by breaking or snapping
  4. (billiards, snooker) Alternative form of break-off