Literally, it's a ceremony of sorts when the first bit of dirt is dug out on the site of new building that is being erected. Quite often there will be a photo in the newspaper showing the mayor or some dignitary with a shovel in the ground and the caption will read, "Groundbreaking was held today on the site of the future First National Bank building."
Groundbreaking can also be used to describe something new, original, unusual or innovative. "In 1967 the Beatles released their groundbreaking album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."
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