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Computers are very reliable; they can work for a long time without breaking down.

What does the phrase “without breaking down” mean in this sentence?

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    "Breaking down" means failing. When your car "breaks down" it starts making bad noise or stops entirely. When computers "break down" they may make bad noises, emit smoke, or simply stop working. – Hot Licks Aug 24 '15 at 3:42
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It means to become inoperative or ineffective. It is an intransitive verb, and you can see it in the Merriam Webster Dictionary under definition 1 B.

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Without encountering a fault that renders them non-workable.

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    If you don't understand "without breaking down" will this be any easier to comprehend? – curiousdannii Aug 24 '15 at 6:21
  • @curiousdannii Yethu didn't ask about the computer part, so I assume he understands something about the field of computers, where "fault" is a well-established term. If he's confused by the idiomatic usage of "break" with "down" -- after all, what does the direction to the center of the earth have to do with this? -- will it be easier for him to understand the concept of something that stops working? I dunno. I hope so. – deadrat Aug 24 '15 at 6:49

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