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From a Stratfor article:

The second step was to break the hold of Ottoman culture on Turkey itself.

Does it mean to maintain the Ottoman culture or to break it from?

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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

It means to break the hold or reduce the influence of Ottoman culture on Turkey.

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"The second step was to get rid of the Ottoman cultural influence over the nation of Turkey."

Break the hold of is being used metaphorically; for a literal use of the phrase, imagine a pair of wrestlers, Sam and Joe. Sam grabs the Joe's arm and holds onto it. Joe then twists in a particular way and breaks the hold, i.e. forces Sam to let go.

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