1. (also break for, break it) of people, to rush off, to leave suddenly; to escape from prison; thus breaker n., one who escapes from prison.
|Trial of Charles Drew 19: The Captain behaved very indecently and told the Colonel he was a Smugler, and had broke 13 Gaols already, and swore he would break another and would be next Week in France.|
|Life in the Far West (1849) 60: ‘Mary,’ he said, ‘I’m about to break. They’re hunting me like a fall buck, and I’m bound to quit. Don’t think any more about me, for I shall never come back.’.|
|‘Sut Lovingood’s Big Dinner Story’ Nashville Union and Amer. XXXIII Aug. in Inge (1967) 169: Then she broke for home.|
|Bloomfield Times (PA) 18 Mar. 2/4: As soon as she entered the door, he broke. The dogs all went after him.|
|Materials for a Dict. of Aus. Sl. [unpub. ms.] 27: To break it thieves to run.|
|Crucibles of Crime 226: He doesn’t want to be thought rough / By ‘gay cat,’ ‘stiff’ or ‘faker;’ / His gun it seems is just a bluff, / Hence Bender is a ‘breaker’.|
|Pleasant Jim 299: What I did then was to break gaol.|
|Green Ice (1988) 47: I told her to break for the dirty burg.|
|Long Good-Bye 51: Had a guy break from me once. They ate my ass off. Let’s go, boy.|
|Executioner (1973) 173: They’re buzzed by the fuzz. No chance, no chance. I’m breaking.|
|‘Six in the Morning’ [lyrics] Out the back door like some damn track stars / Broke down an alley jumped into a car.|
|White Boy Shuffle 99: Break north befo’ I call mother.|
|Sl. and Sociability 101: Farewells are often the equivalent of I must leave now and use various slang substitutes for leave. For example [...] gotta plus bogart, bolt, boogie, book, break [...] all of which mean ‘leave, depart’.|
2. (also break down, break in) of things, events, to turn out, to transpire, to develop; often qualified by defining adj.
|Artie (1963) 16–19: I did n’t expect to break in, but when the night come there was nothin’ else in sight so I hot-foots up to the dance.|
|Maison De Shine 217: Well, the way things are breakin’, Bill [...] we better grab what we can.|
|Gullible’s Travels 53: ‘It’s tough luck,’ I says, ‘but you can’t expect things to break right all the w’ile.’.‘Three Kings and a Pair’ in|
|Nightmare Town (2001) 50: I’d just as leave have you standing by in case things break wrong.‘House Dick’ in|
|Little Caesar 137: Things were breaking good, money was rolling in.|
|Great Magoo 148: Well, how are things breakin’?|
|You’re in the Racket, Too 95: Things were beginning to break better now.|
|Really the Blues 265: Things were breaking all around, and not only precedents.|
|I, Mobster 84: I ought to have felt good about the way things were breaking.|
|Proud Highway (1997) 388: As for plans, there are two possibilities and they both broke today.letter 20 Aug. in|
|You Flash Bastard 275: ‘What about my involvement should an enquiry break?’ ‘An enquiry will break, Terry; sure it will.’.|
|Bonfire of the Vanities 210: And if things break right, you’ll be on to something big.|
|Pulp Fiction [film script] 8: Yeah, it breaks down like this.|
|Guardian Guide 13–19 May 52: When someone asks, ‘let me know how your job interview goes’, what they actually say is: ‘gimme the heads up and let me know how it breaks’.|
|Turning Angel 106: Look, things are breaking fast on this.|
3. to conduct oneself.
|Dames Don’t Care (1960) 64: Just how Henrietta is breakin’ wit these guys out at the Hacienda, I do not know.|
4. to reveal or be revealed; to promote, to publicize, usu. in media context.
|Spanish Blood (1946) 11: We got to break this fast. It’s dynamite.‘Spanish Blood’ in|
|Big Clock (2002) 72: When the story breaks, he may go straight to the police.|
|Harder They Fall (1971) 92: When you gonna break somethin’ in the papers about him?|
|Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit 165: I’m telling you the biggest story that has broken around these parts for years.|
|Tourist Season (1987) 12: Something broke while you were diddling around. News, they call it.|
|Guardian Weekend 4 Dec. 44: The story breaks and I couldn’t believe it – little me [...] on the cover of four papers.|
5. to render successful; to become successful.
|Zigzag Apr. n.p.: United Artists seem to have so many good bands, but they can’t seem to break them [KH].|
|Sounds 24 Jan. n.p.: ‘Roxanne’ broke big [KH].|
|Powder 351: This could be the deal that breaks this band wide open.|
6. see break up v. (4) .
1. to have a mental breakdown.
|From First to Last (1954) 68: He broke bad. Honey Grove laid a plan for a big spring—a get-away [...] but just as they were about ready, Soupbone got cold feet and gave up his insides.‘The Informal Execution of Soupbone Pew’ in|
2. (US black) to become angry or aggressive.
|Manchild in the Promised Land (1969) 327: Down home, when they went to town, all the niggers would just break bad, so it seemed.|
|Tales (1969) 42: J. [...] broke bad because Augie, Norman, and white Johnny were there.|
|Black Short Story Anthol. (1972) 142: Long as he ain’ break-bad and do nothin.‘Love Song for Wing’ in King|
|Drylongso 20: If anybody should get up off their jobs for these refugees, it should be those paddies that told them to break bad with the Bear to begin with.|
|Steve Dahl Show on WCKG [radio; Chicago] 19 Aug. [Internet] If Steve was in Vietnam, he’d never break bad on any of the other people he served with.|
3. (US campus) to perform well.
|Campus Sl. Spring 1: break bad – do something extremely well: When Jeff Lebo hits a three-pointer, he’s breaking bad.|
see sense 2 above.
see sense 1 above.
see take to the tall timber(s) under tall timber n.
to act aggressively.
|Night Gardener 198: This city had its own force and they were known to break hard on kids who lived [...] down by the apartments.|
(US black) to make a mistake, to take the wrong course of action.
|Campus Sl. Mar.|
|‘I’m Ready’ [lyrics] Rappers boast and brag about their lyrical skills / But they all shut the fuck up when I break ill.|
see sense 2 above.
see sense 1 above.
(Aus.) to win heavily, esp. when gambling.
|In the Blood 114: Ain’t I good enuff ter yer, give yer all the money I make when I ’ave the luck ter ‘break it’.|
|Dict. of Aus. Words And Terms [Internet] BREAK-IT — Win money when destitute.|
|(ref. to 1954) DSUE (8th edn) 132/1: break it big To win a lot of money; esp. at gambling; Aus.|
see break out v. (4)
(US) to act in a cowardly manner.
|Prison Sl. 31: Break Weak An expression to indicate a person’s behavior when they back down or become passive in a confrontative situation.|
|theStranger.com 7–13 Feb. [Internet] THIS IS MY ONE & ONLY LOVE KAMAU I will never break weak, Our bond will be everlasting. I love You-Kehli.|
1. to lose interest.
|Prison Sl. 48: Break Wide To lose interest in a certain situation.|
2. to leave in a hurry.
|in Prison Sl. 48: Telling someone to break wide is telling him to leave.|