from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To fall down or inward suddenly; cave in.
  • intransitive v. To break down suddenly in strength or health and thereby cease to function: a monarchy that collapsed.
  • intransitive v. To fold compactly: chairs that collapse for storage.
  • transitive v. To cause to fold, break down, or fall down or inward.
  • n. The act of falling down or inward, as from loss of supports.
  • n. An abrupt failure of function, strength, or health; a breakdown.
  • n. An abrupt loss of perceived value or of effect: the collapse of popular respect for the integrity of world leaders.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To fall down suddenly; to cave in
  • v. To cease to function due to a sudden breakdown
  • v. To fold compactly
  • v. For several batsmen to get out in quick succession
  • v. To cause something to collapse.
  • v. To pass out and fall to the floor or ground, as from exhaustion or other illness; to faint
  • n. The act of collapsing
  • n. Constant function, one-valued function (in automata theory) (in particular application causing a reset)

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A falling together suddenly, as of the sides of a hollow vessel.
  • n. A sudden and complete failure; an utter failure of any kind; a breakdown.
  • n. Extreme depression or sudden failing of all the vital powers, as the result of disease, injury, or nervous disturbance.
  • intransitive v. To fall together suddenly, as the sides of a hollow vessel; to close by falling or shrinking together; to have the sides or parts of (a thing) fall in together, or be crushed in together.
  • intransitive v. To fail suddenly and completely, like something hollow when subject to too much pressure; to undergo a collapse.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To fall together, or into an irregular mass or flattened form, through loss of firm connection or rigidity and support of the parts or loss of the contents, as a building through the falling in of its sides, or an inflated bladder from escape of the air contained in it.
  • Figuratively— To break down; go to pieces; come to nothing; fail; become ruined: as, the project collapsed.
  • In pathology, to sink into extreme weakness or physical depression in the course of a disease.
  • To appear as if collapsing; lose strength, courage, etc.; subside; cease to assert one's self or push one's self forward: as, after that rebuke he collapsed.
  • n. A falling in or together, as of the sides of a hollow vessel.
  • n. Figuratively, a sudden and complete failure of any kind; a breakdown.
  • n. In medicine, an extreme sinking or depression; a more or less sudden failure of the vital powers: as, the stage of collapse in cholera.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. collapse due to fatigue, an illness, or a sudden attack
  • v. fall apart
  • v. break down, literally or metaphorically
  • v. suffer a nervous breakdown
  • n. a sudden large decline of business or the prices of stocks (especially one that causes additional failures)
  • v. cause to burst
  • n. an abrupt failure of function or complete physical exhaustion
  • v. fold or close up
  • n. a natural event caused by something suddenly falling down or caving in
  • v. lose significance, effectiveness, or value
  • n. the act of throwing yourself down


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Latin collābī, collāps-, to fall together : com-, com- + lābī, to fall.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin collapsus (past participle of collabi)



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  • See effort comments.

    March 25, 2012

  • collapse has a special meaning in ecology and envronmental fields where it refers to a sudden decline in the population of a species. "The collapse of the native bird population followed the accidental introduction of snakes onto the island."

    June 21, 2009

  • Here is how a man once talked with his house.

    'Please, if you're ever about to collapse,

    let me know.' One night without a word the

    house fell. 'What happened to our agreement?'

    The house answered, 'Day and night I've been

    telling you with cracks and broken boards and

    holes appearing like mouths opening. But you

    kept patching and filling those with mud, so

    proud of your stopgap masonry. You didn't


    - Rumi, 'Ghazal 1134', version by Coleman Barks with Nevit Ergin in 'The Glance'.

    October 17, 2008