Green’s Dictionary of Slang

break v.2


1. [mid-18C+] (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.

2. [late 19C+] (also break down, break in) of things, events, to turn out, to transpire, to develop; often qualified by defining adj.

3. [1930s] to conduct oneself.

4. [1930s+] to reveal or be revealed; to promote, to publicize, usu. in media context.

5. [1970s+] to render successful; to become successful.

6. see break up v. (4) .

In phrases

break bad (v.)

1. [1910s] to have a mental breakdown.

2. [1960s+] (US black) to become angry or aggressive.

3. [1980s] (US campus) to perform well.

break down (v.)

see sense 2 above.

break for (v.)

see sense 1 above.

break hard (v.)

[2000s] to act aggressively.

break ill (v.) [ill adj. (2)]

[1980s] (US black) to make a mistake, to take the wrong course of action.

break in (v.)

see sense 2 above.

break it (v.)

see sense 1 above.

break it (big) (v.)

[1950s] (Aus.) to win heavily, esp. when gambling.

break weak (v.)

[20C+] (US) to act in a cowardly manner.

break wide (v.) [20C+] (US black)

1. to lose interest.

2. to leave in a hurry.