break up v.
1. (US) to make someone very upset, to make someone ill with tension, to cause someone to cry.
|Bismarck (ND) Trib. 26 Jan. 8/1: The minister preached how vulgar it was to use slang [...] Just the minute I caught on to his racket, it broke me all up.|
|Chimmie Fadden Explains 7: Say, honest, dat broke me all up.|
|Bulletin (Sydney) 9 Aug. 17/2: This bard, who sits a-watching Nell, / With fingers white and slim, / Owns up that, as she breaks each shell, / She also ‘breaks up’ him; / And could devoutly drop upon / Submissive, bended knees.|
|Gem 16 Mar. 5: It broke my governor up.|
|Man with Two Left Feet 42: He told me the whole thing so simply and frankly that it broke me all up.‘Wilton’s Holiday’|
|Tell England (1965) 297: The boyish words broke me up. My brows contracted in pain. My eyes burned.|
|Dames Don’t Care (1960) 126: I said it was pretty tough for me being sick to think she was running around with a guy who had swindled me. Well, that broke her up. I reckon she was sorry.|
|Quare Fellow (1960) Act II: It’ll break that young screw up.|
|Mad mag. June 49: Man, I broke up at this crudest bird who wailed like some Zen Buddhist.|
|Big Rumble 109: Next time I’ll break you both up, you fight in my store.|
|in Living Black 142: Well, it broke me up.|
|Dict. of Kiwi Sl. 21/1: break up demonstrate great amusement or, contrarily, upset.|
|Yes We have No 209: My ex-girlfriend has another man now, and that breaks me up.|
|Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. [as cit. 1988].|
2. (orig. US, also break it up) to cause someone to laugh or applaud heartily; to applaud heartily.
|Bill Nye and Boomerang 96: When I read this little thing [...] it broke me all up.|
|AS II:2 91: It is reported that a judge once used it inadvertently, and well nigh broke up the court.‘From “Quoz” to “Razzberries”’ in|
|New Hepsters Dict. in Calloway (1976) 253: break it up (v.): to win applause, to stop the show.|
|Little Men, Big World 39: It must be something pretty funny to break up a tired broad like Lola.|
|Lady Sings the Blues (1975) 40: Then the house broke up. There’s nothing like an audience at the Apollo.|
|Last Exit to Brooklyn (1966) 63: Roberta really broke us up.|
|Stand (1990) 151: This never failed to break Poke up. He brayed laughter.|
|Different Seasons (1995) 196: On the TV, Buddy Hackett had just broken everybody up.|
3. (US) to act hysterically, to act irrationally.
|Bulletin (Sydney) 6 Jan. 12/3: Juvenile Melbourne was ‘breaking up,’ and showing off for many weary days before Plum-puddingness.|
|Battlers 310: Poor old bugger’s breaking up fast.|
|Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby (1966) 24: I’m breaking up, and I don’t even know what’s happening to me.|
|Prison Sl. 93: Nut Up To completely lose control of oneself. […] (Archaic: blow one’s roof, break up).|
4. (also break) to collapse in laughter.
|in North Amer. Rev. Jan. 61: Well, humour is the great thing, the saving thing, [...] so, when M. Bourget said that bright thing about our grandfathers, I broke all up.|
|Mad mag. Sept. 46: All the hipsters always break up when I make the scene. They keep laughing at me.|
|(con. 1940s) Tattoo (1977) He knew Glenn and Bucky were breaking up.|
|Ladies’ Man (1985) 45: Jerry and Maurice broke up. Al basked in their laughter.|
|(con. 1982–6) Cocaine Kids (1990) 100: Everybody in the joint broke. It was funny as shit.|
|Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl.|