News words: « break »

Every week we will focus on a key word in the news. The best way to learn new vocabulary is in context, so we will look at how each word is used in the world’s newspapers.

The word from this weeks world news is

break / broke / broken

Todays quotes are all taken fromguardian-logo Click on the links in the quotes to open the original article.

The Russia-Ukraine gas crisis

But analysts point out that, since the last serious crisis broke out in 2006, Europe has done very little to avert shortages

If something dangerous or unpleasant breaks out (phrasal verb), it suddenly starts.

The dispute, viewed by the EU as a purely commercial one until recently, threatens a fresh breakdown in relations between Brussels and Moscow.

A breakdown is a failure to work or be successful.

The crisis in Gaza

Even if the Israeli forces break (verb) Hamas’s grip on power, officials admit any such « victory » may be temporary and will bring more difficulties in its wake.

(verb) To cause something to divide into two or more parts our groups (to weaken something)

Khalid Mish’al (This brutality will never break our will to be free, 6 January)

(verb) To cause something to stop working by being damaged

The president-elect, Barack Obama, broke his silence by saying he was « deeply concerned » about civilian casualties on both sides.

(verb) To interrupt or stop something

Ideas for a weekend holiday


A break (noun) is a short rest.

The costs of environmental measures to the automotive industry

EU schemes for improving consumption and safety and reducing emissions would add « billions of euros of cost to the industry at a time when revenues are below break-even for most companies ».

To break even is to have no profit or loss at the end of a business activity. If revenues are below break-even (used as a noun), this means the business has made a loss;

Notice that newspapers like The Guardian often talk about « breaking news« , which is news about events that have only just happened. The « breaking news » about something is probably the first time the event has been reported.

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