break out

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

  1. (intransitive) To escape, especially forcefully or defiantly. Notionally, to escape by breaking.
    They broke out of prison in the middle of the night.
    The brigade succeeded in breaking out of the pocket and reunited with friendly forces.
  2. (transitive) To rescue someone or aid their escape as in sense 1
    After Big Tony was sent to prison, his friends got together to break him out.
  3. (transitive, idiomatic) To bring out from storage, use, or present.
    Break out the bubbly and celebrate.
    Before you immediately break out calculus, consider that there might be a more elegant way to find the answer in this case.
    Picks and shovels had been perfectly adequate for the sporadic digging we'd had to do over the last month, but when faced with 30 cubic yards of earth to move in at once, we decided to break out the heavy equipment.
  4. (transitive) To separate from a bundle.
    Break out the cables from the harness once they are inside the frame.
  5. (transitive) To take or force out by breaking.
    to break out a pane of glass
  6. (intransitive) To begin suddenly; to emerge in a certain condition.
    He broke out in sweat.
    He broke out in song.
    • 1922, James Joyce, chapter 13, in Ulysses:
      The pretty lips pouted awhile but then she glanced up and broke out into a joyous little laugh which had in it all the freshness of a young May morning.
    • 2022 January 12, “Network News: Further extension to Transport for London emergency funding”, in RAIL, number 948, page 8:
      In a war of words that has broken out between Khan and Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps, the Mayor was accused of sending revenue-raising proposals to Shapps some three weeks late, giving him little choice but to extend negotiations.
  7. (intransitive, of a person) To suddenly get pimples or a rash, especially on one's face.
  8. (recording industry, intransitive) Of a record: to achieve success.
    • 1971, Billboard, volume 83, number 13, page 31:
      The record first happened a few years ago in Florida and had considerable sales. A year later, the record broke out again in Florida and again experienced considerable sales. Both times, it either made the chart or bubbled under.
    • 2000, Billboard, volume 112, number 28, page 25:
      Avant will finish a radio tour this summer that includes a stop in Chicago, where the single broke out thanks to support from WGCI programmer Elroy Smith.
  9. (obsolete, New England) To remove snow from a road or sidewalk.
    • 1895, Judkins, Brawn & Eaton, "Town Warrant" in 79th Annual Report of the Municipal Officers of the Town of Dexter (Maine), Bunker & Warren, page 6:
      Art. 24—To see what action the town will take in relation to breaking out highways and what portion of the road money, if any, shall be reserved for this purpose.



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