What Does Break the News Mean?

Break the News Meaning

Definition: To give new information publicly or to share new information with someone.

In journalism, a similar expression is to break a story. A common variation is breaking news. This means to be the first news source to share a newsworthy story with the public.

Origin of Break the News

Similar expressions using break in this same manner existed since the 1500s. One of these expressions was to break a matter, and it meant to reveal some new information.

To see a discussion of break vs. brake, see here.

Examples of Break the News

Meaning of break the newsIn this example, a man uses the expression to deliver some tough news to his friend.

Rodrigo: Hey, do you want to go see a movie tonight?

Alisha: That sounds fun, and I wish I could, but, unfortunately, I already have plans.

Rodrigo: Oh? What are you up to tonight?

Alisha: I’m going out to see a movie with my boyfriend.

Rodrigo: Are you serious? I thought you broke up with him!

Alisha: I did, but he convinced me that we should get back together.

Rodrigo: Okay, I didn’t want to tell you this, but I guess I have to. I’m sorry to break the news to you, but your boyfriend is cheating on you.

Alisha: What?

Define breaking the newsIn the example below, two friends are discussing an exciting development in the man’s personal life.

Luis: Do you have a minute to talk?

Stephanie: Sure! Why? Is something wrong?

Luis: No, actually, just the opposite. I wanted to tell you before anyone else broke the news.

Stephanie: What is it?

Luis: My girlfriend is pregnant! We’re going to have a baby!

More Examples

This excerpt is from a movie review.

  • Stranded over winter break by parents who have failed to pick them up —  in Rose’s case because she deliberately gave them the wrong date, to break the news to her boyfriend (Peter J. Gray) that she might be pregnant —  the girls are thrown together for a week, with minimal supervision. –Denver Post

This excerpt is about neighbors being upset upon learning about the deaths of two young children. 

  • Hours after their deaths were announced, neighbors burst out crying. Parents whose children regularly played with Adam, 3, and Ethan, 5, struggled to think of ways to break the news to their kids. Denver Post


The phrase break the news means to tell someone something new.