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Break a butterfly on a wheel employ disproportionate force in the achievement of an aim; the wheel here is one on which the bodies of criminals were broken as a method of execution. The phrase is first used by Pope in the line, ‘Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?’

break one's duck in cricket, score one's first run (in allusion to the origin of duck 1 as resembling a duck's egg in shape).

break the mould make impossible the repetition of a certain type of creation; put an end to a pattern of events or behaviour by setting markedly different standards. Originally with reference to Ariosto's Orlando Furioso (1532), ‘Nature made him and then broke the mould’.

See also break the ice, it is the last straw that breaks the camel's back, sticks and stones may break my bones.

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