What Does Break Someone of Something Mean?

Break Someone of Something Meaning

Definition: To make someone discontinue a habit.

Origin of Break Someone of Something

This idiom originated around the early-1600s. One of the meanings of break is to suddenly stop something. It is likely that this meaning of break is related to the development of the idiom.

See here for a discussion of break and brake.

Examples of Break Someone of Something

define break someoneIn this conversation, two high-school students are talking about what to wear on the first day of school.

Lisa: So, do you know what you are going to wear on the first day of school? I just went shopping and found a few different outfits that I like.

Jackie: I hadn’t really thought about it. Probably just something comfortable like my old jeans and a plain white T-shirt.

Lisa: That is so boring! You should wear something exciting and new for the first day.

Jackie: Really? Does it matter?

Lisa: Of course it matters. I’m going to break you of wearing the same outfit year after year. You are getting too used to the same style. You need to try new things!

Jackie: Oh. I guess that’s true. I suppose I could get a few new clothes to update my wardrobe.

Meaning of break someoneIn the dialogue below, two friends are discussing how to quit smoking.

Seth: Do you want a cigarette?

Jimmy: No thanks. I quit a few months ago.

Seth: Really? I know you had wanted to quit for a long time but were really struggling with it. What happened to finally break you of the habit?

Jimmy: I got an e-cigarette. It allowed me to slowly wean myself off the nicotine. You should try it! It could break you of your pack a day habit.

Seth: It would be nice to quit. Maybe I’ll try it.

More Examples

This excerpt is about a man whose gun obsession led to becoming a hunter.

  • He was fixated on guns as a child. He’d gaze, captivated, at the gun rack in his father’s office, until one day his father took him shooting in hopes it would break him of the infatuation. –LA Times

This excerpt is about a coach who kept using the same plays for his team over and over again.

  • But he was using the same play calls from the time he began calling plays at Lambuth in 2008, carrying them with him as he traveled up the coaching ladder. It may be harder to break him of old habits. –USA Today


To break someone of something means to stop someone from doing something he or she accustomed to doing.