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breakneck

fast and dangerous

TRANSLATION

breakneck = halsbrecherisch --- GOOGLE INDEX breakneck: approximately 4,500,000 Google hits

STATISTICS

IN THE PRESS

While Shanghai's new architecture astounds the world, urban planner Professor Ruan is horrified by the city's BREAKNECK development and is fighting to save and enhance important historic buildings.

(BBC News)

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Can Wal-Mart Keep Growing at BREAKNECK Speed?

(New York Times news headline)

Did you
know?

breakneck
adjective

- carelessly fast and dangerous

(Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary)

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Remember when you parents scolded you for riding your bicycle or scooter so fast that you were in danger of "breaking your neck?" This common expression was eventually reworded into the adjective "breakneck," meaning fast and careless to the point of being dangerous.

We normally associate this word with the speed of moving objects, especially motorized vehicles. But even animals and humans can appear to be moving at breakneck speed. Here is a selection of some of the fastest things on earth and how they compare.

- fastest man = Jamaican born track and field athlete Usain Bolt won the 100m final in a new world record time of 9.58 seconds in Berlin in 2009. His top speed was 44.172 kmh according to the biomechanical analysis of his 9.58 record.

- fastest land animal = The cheetah can blaze at an amazing 110 kmh.

- fastest fish = The sailfish can also top 112 kmh.

- fastest bird = The Peregrine Falcon can swoop down on its prey at an astounding 322 kmh.

When it comes to "mental speed," it would be a shame not to mention 14-year-old Chad Qian of Indiana in the U.S. The young "mathlete" won a national math competition by answering the following question:

"A bag of coins contains only pennies (1 cent), nickels (5 cents) and dimes (10 cents) with at least five of each. How many different combined values are possible if five coins are selected at random?"

The young math whiz came up with the right answer - 21 - within the breakneck time of 5 seconds!

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SYNONYMS

at full tilt, dangerously fast, excessive, flat out, headlong, high-speed, lightning, rapid, reckless, speedy, whirlwind

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SMUGGLE OWAD into today's conversation

"The population of many of the world's largest cities is growing at breakneck speed."

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