brake

noun (1)
\ˈbrāk \

Definition of brake 

(Entry 1 of 6)

1 : a device for arresting or preventing the motion of a mechanism usually by means of friction apply the brakes took his foot off the brake

2 : something used to slow down or stop movement or activity use interest rates as a brake on spending

brake

verb
braked; braking

Definition of brake (Entry 2 of 6)

intransitive verb

1 : to operate or manage a brake especially : to apply the brake on a vehicle brake around the curves

2 : to become checked by a brake The train braked to a stop.

transitive verb

: to slow or stop by or as if by a brake (see brake entry 1) braking a tractor

brake

noun (2)

Definition of brake (Entry 3 of 6)

botany : the common bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum)

brake

noun (3)

Definition of brake (Entry 4 of 6)

1 : a toothed instrument or machine for separating out the fiber of flax or hemp by breaking up the woody parts

2 : a machine for bending, flanging, folding, and forming sheet metal

brake

noun (4)

Definition of brake (Entry 5 of 6)

geography : rough or marshy land overgrown usually with one kind of plant cedar brakes coastal brakes

brake

Definition of brake (Entry 6 of 6)

archaic past of break

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Other Words from brake

Noun (1)

brakeless \ ˈbrā-​kləs \ adjective

Noun (4)

braky \ ˈbrā-​kē \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for brake

Synonyms: Verb

decelerate, retard, slacken, slow

Antonyms: Verb

accelerate, hasten, hurry, quicken, rush, speed (up), step up

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Break and Brake: Remembering Which Is Which

Noun (4)

It can be hard to apply these words correctly: they sound exactly the same, and their spellings aren't easily connected to their meanings. One of the pair, however, is quite limited in scope, and focusing on when to apply that one can be key.

When the subject is slowing or stopping movement, the word to use is brake. Brake is both a noun, as in "put on the brakes" and "took my foot off the brake," and a verb, as in "brake at the stop sign" and "I brake for moose." As a noun, it's also used before other nouns: "brake fluid," "brake pedal." As in these examples, the word is used in contexts relating to cars, bicycles, and other vehicles. It's also used figuratively, however, to talk about the slowing or stopping of activity, as in "putting the brakes on spending."

Break also functions as both a noun and a verb, and it's the word you want in all other contexts, such as when the topic is something separating into parts or pieces ("the plate will break if it falls," "break a leg," "a bad break"), being damaged to the point of no longer working ("break a watch"), failing to do what is promised ("break a promise"), or referring to a time during which activity stops ("take a break").

If you have difficulty keeping these straight and are inclined to think in pictures, you might want to imagine a foot nestled in the top of the k in brake, pressing that top line down onto the e, which isn't saying a thing, because the k has put the brakes on.

Examples of brake in a Sentence

Verb

I had to brake suddenly when a cat ran in front of the car. braked the car sharply when someone pulled out in front of us

First Known Use of brake

Noun (1)

circa 1782, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1868, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Noun (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun (3)

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (4)

1562, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for brake

Noun (1)

perhaps from obsolete brake bridle

Verb

see brake entry 1

Noun (2)

Middle English, fern, probably back-formation from braken bracken

Noun (3)

Middle English, from Middle Low German; akin to Old English brecan to break

Noun (4)

Middle English -brake

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Learn More about brake

Dictionary Entries near brake

braise

Braj Bhasha

brak

brake

brake band

brake beam

brake block

Statistics for brake

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for brake

The first known use of brake was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for brake

brake

verb

English Language Learners Definition of brake

: to use the brake on a vehicle

brake

noun
\ˈbrāk \

Kids Definition of brake

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a device for slowing or stopping motion (as of a wheel) usually by friction

brake

verb
braked; braking

Kids Definition of brake (Entry 2 of 2)

: to slow or stop by using a brake I had to brake suddenly.

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Comments on brake

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