break someone of something

Idioms & Phrases

break someone of something

Cause to discontinue a habit or practice, as in Mom tried for years to break Betty of biting her nails. The Oxford English Dictionary cites a quotation from W. Wotton's History of Rome (1701): "He ... broke them of their warm Baths," which presumably refers to breaking Romans of their custom of bathing regularly. Today we are more apt to break someone of a bad habit. [Early 1600s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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