breaking point

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breaking point (countable and uncountable, plural breaking points)

  1. (mechanics) The point at which the increasing strain in a material causes it to break.
  2. (figurative) The point at which a person or system succumbs to stresses or pressures and descends into crisis.
    • 2012 November 20, Nina Bernstein, “Storm Bared a Lack of Options for the Homeless in New York”, in New York Times[1]:
      Even before Hurricane Sandy, New York was sheltering more homeless people than any city in the United States: a record 47,000 women, men and children, in a system strained to the breaking point.