We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is a "Broken Record"?

Malcolm Tatum
By
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A broken record is an idiomatic expression that describes a situation in which an ongoing series of repetitions is taking place. The idiom is sometimes employed when an individual continues to bring up the same subject repeatedly within a short period of time, usually without providing any additional insights or information as part of the discussion. The development of this colorful saying has its roots in the production of acetate recordings that were popular during the first half of the 20th century, and what would happen when those acetate records were damaged in some manner.

Prior to the development and use of vinyl for long-playing records, a more rigid yet sensitive material known as acetate was used to press copies of recordings. Acetate records required very careful handling in order to prevent damage to the playing surfaces, such as scratching or even hairline cracks. When an acetate record was damaged, this would negatively impact the ability of the record player needle to track properly along the grooves of the record’s surface. Owing to the damage, the needle would often jump backward to a previous groove, or stick in the damaged one. The end result is that one small part of the recording would play again and again, unless the needle arm was manually moved forward and past the damaged area.

When a person continues to repeat the same words or phrases to the irritation of those who are listening, the individual is normally informed that he or she sounds like a broken record. The implication is that the point has been made and it is time to move on to other information or topics of discussion. Other colorful expressions may also be used in conjunction with the reference to being like a broken record, including informing the speaker that his or her needle is stuck. Employing these phrases is normally an attempt to prompt the individual to cease dwelling on a particular subject and move the conversation forward or change the subject altogether.

While long-playing records are now only pressed in limited editions and acetate has long since been replaced by vinyl, the reference to a broken record has continued in relatively common use in many cultures around the world. Unlike other idioms, being referred to as a broken record is consistently considered a negative characteristic, unlike other idioms in which the time, place, and setting will influence whether the idiom is a criticism or a term of endearment.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Link to Sources
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including WiseGeek, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By Rundocuri — On Sep 24, 2014

@spotiche5- That's funny, I have the same fond memories, not of a family member but of my fourth grade teacher. I think she used the phrase "you are being like a broken record again" at least once a day!

By Spotiche5 — On Sep 23, 2014

Reading this phrase brings back good memories of my grandmother. She was always saying that the kids were being like "broken records" when they would repeatedly ask for something even after being told no!

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.