To Break Ground: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
December 5, 2023

"To break ground" refers to the ceremonial beginning of construction or development on a building, road, or other structure. It signifies that work on a new project is officially underway. When people use the idiom, they often refer to starting a new project or initiative.

In short:

  • It means to begin a new endeavor or project.
  • It means the start of a building or engineering project, shown by the first digging or excavation of the ground.

What Does “To Break Ground” Mean?

The idiom "to break ground" primarily means to start a new project or venture. However, like many idioms, it has nuances and variations.

  • Initially, it referred to the act of breaking the surface of the ground to begin construction.
  • Its meaning expanded to include the initiation of any new endeavor.
  • It can also imply a pioneering effort, where someone ventures into uncharted territory.

Where Does “To Break Ground” Come From?

Initially, around the 1670s, it was used in the literal sense of "to dig or plow." This usage reflects the physical act of breaking the ground surface, typically for agricultural or construction purposes. By 1709, the phrase had taken on a figurative meaning, signifying the initiation or commencement of a plan or project. This figurative sense aligns with the idea of taking the first step in a new endeavor, much like the first shovel of earth turned in a groundbreaking ceremony for a building project.

10 Examples of “To Break Ground” in Sentences

Let's dive into some examples to see how "to break ground" in different contexts:

  • After drafting the plans for months, we're ready to break ground on our new home.
  • The company plans to break ground on its new headquarters next month.
  • With the graph showing positive trends, they decided to break ground on their new project.
  • She was the first in her family to break ground in medicine.
  • After securing the funds, the community broke ground for the free health clinic.
  • It's a significant number of startups that break ground in the tech industry every year.
  • They are eager to break ground on their innovative software solution.
  • With the draft of the novel complete, she's ready to break ground on her next book.
  • The city council decided to break ground on the new park by the river.
  • Being the first to break ground in this research area, she faced many challenges.

Examples of “To Break Ground” in Pop Culture

Here are some actual instances where "to break ground" made its mark:

  • There's a WWE Network series titled "Breaking Ground" which gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of people training to become WWE Superstars and Divas.
  • In film and television, directors and producers who introduce new techniques or controversial topics might be said to "break ground." For example, the movie "Avatar" by James Cameron broke ground with its revolutionary use of 3D technology.

Synonyms: Other/Different Ways to Say “To Break Ground"

There are several ways to convey the idea of starting something new:

  • Begin afresh
  • Embark on
  • Set the ball rolling
  • Take the first step
  • Launch into

10 Frequently Asked Questions About “To Break Ground”:

  • What does "to break ground" mean?

It means to start a new project or venture.

  • Where did the idiom originate?

Its origins trace back to construction and agriculture, where breaking ground was a literal act of starting a new building or planting.

  • Is "to break ground" used in modern language?

Yes, it's widely used to signify the start of any new endeavor, not just in construction.

  • Can "to break ground" imply a pioneering effort?

Yes, it can also mean venturing into uncharted territory or doing something innovative.

  • How can I use this idiom in a sentence about a new business?

"After securing investors, we're ready to break ground on our startup."

  • Is "to break ground" a positive expression?

Generally, yes. It implies progress, new beginnings, and forward movement.

  • Can it be used in negative contexts?

While primarily positive, context matters. For instance, "They broke ground without the necessary permits" implies a negative action.

  • Are there other idioms similar to "to break ground"?

Yes, idioms like "Begin afresh" or "Set the ball rolling" convey similar meanings.

  • Why is understanding idioms like "to break ground" important?

Idioms enrich the language, making it more vibrant and expressive. Knowing them aids in communication and cultural understanding.

  • Can "to break ground" be used in formal and informal contexts?

Yes, "to break ground" is versatile and can be used in both formal settings, such as business meetings or official documents, and informal situations like casual conversations or social media posts. Its adaptability makes it a popular choice across various contexts.

Final Thoughts About “To Break Ground”

The phrase "to break ground" refers to the beginning of a new project or venture, especially in construction or something innovative. This expression is often used literally when starting a building or infrastructure project, and figuratively for initiating novel or pioneering efforts in various fields.

To recap:

  • The phrase originates from breaking the ground with tools to lay the foundation for a construction project. It signifies the start of building something new.
  • It has also come to symbolize the start of any new venture, especially those innovative or groundbreaking in fields like science, technology, or business.
  • It is a versatile phrase used in various contexts, ranging from literal construction to metaphorical use in describing the initiation of new ideas or projects.
  • Using "to break ground" often conveys a sense of pioneering spirit and embarking on unexplored or innovative paths, highlighting the novelty and significance of the endeavor.

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