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See also: break through


Alternative forms[edit]


From break +‎ through. Compare German Durchbruch and Dutch doorbraak (breakthrough, literally through-break).


  • IPA(key): /ˈbɹeɪkθɹuː/
  • (file)


breakthrough (not comparable)

  1. Characterized by major progress or overcoming some obstacle.
    a breakthrough technological advance



breakthrough (plural breakthroughs)

  1. (military) An advance through and past enemy lines.
  2. Any major progress; such as a great innovation or discovery that overcomes a significant obstacle.
    Albert Einstein is credited with making some of the greatest breakthroughs in modern physics.
    • 2020 May 20, Andrew Haines talks to Stefanie Foster, “Repurpose rail for the 2020s”, in Rail, page 33:
      "Secondly, we have to find more cost-effective ways of electrifying. And we've had a real breakthrough in the last couple of years in terms of bridge clearances and immunisation, meaning we've been able to take hundreds of millions of pounds off the cost of electrification.
  3. (sports) The penetration of the opposition defence
    • 2011 September 29, Jon Smith, “Tottenham 3 - 1 Shamrock Rovers”, in BBC Sport[1]:
      But with the lively Dos Santos pulling the strings behind strikers Pavlyuchenko and Defoe, Spurs controlled the first half without finding the breakthrough their dominance deserved.
  4. (construction) The penetration of a separating wall or the remaining distance to an adjacent hollow (a crosscut in mining) or between two parts of a tunnel build from both ends; knockthrough.

Derived terms[edit]