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Definition of 'break down'


  1. make a mathematical, chemical, or grammatical analysis of; break down into components or essential features; "analyze a specimen"; "analyze a sentence"; "analyze a chemical compound"
       Synonyms: analyze analyse dissect take apart
       Antonyms: synthesize synthesise
  2. make ineffective; "Martin Luther King tried to break down racial discrimination"
       Synonyms: crush
  3. lose control of one's emotions; "When she heard that she had not passed the exam, she lost it completely"; "When her baby died, she snapped"
       Synonyms: lose it snap
  4. stop operating or functioning; "The engine finally went"; "The car died on the road"; "The bus we travelled in broke down on the way to town"; "The coffee maker broke"; "The engine failed on the way to town"; "her eyesight went after the accident"
       Synonyms: fail go bad give way die give out conk out go break
  5. separate (substances) into constituent elements or parts
       Synonyms: decompose break up
  6. fall apart; "the building crumbled after the explosion"; "Negotiations broke down"
       Synonyms: crumble crumple tumble collapse
  7. cause to fall or collapse
  8. collapse due to fatigue, an illness, or a sudden attack
       Synonyms: collapse

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