"separated by force into parts, not integral or entire," past-participle adjective from Old English brocken, past participle of break (v.). Of terrain, "rough," 1590s; of language, "imperfect, ungrammatical," 1590s. Related: Brokenly; brokenness. Broken home, one in which the parents of children no longer live together, is from 1846. Broken record in reference to someone continually repeating the same thing is from 1944, in reference to scratches on phonograph disks that cause the needle to jump back and repeat.
When Britain's Minister of State, Selwyn Lloyd[,] became bored with a speech by Russia's Andrei Vishinsky in UN debate, he borrowed a Dizzy Gillespie bebop expression and commented: "Dig that broken record." While most translators pondered the meaning, a man who takes English and puts it into Chinese gave this translation: "Recover the phonograph record which you have discarded." [Jet, Oct. 15, 1953]
updated on August 19, 2020