brake 1[breyk] SynonymsExamplesWord Origin noun

  1. a device for slowing or stopping a vehicle or other moving mechanism by the absorption or transfer of the energy of momentum, usually by means of friction.
  2. brakes, the drums, shoes, tubes, levers, etc., making up such a device on a vehicle.
  3. anything that has a slowing or stopping effect.
  4. Also called brakeman. a member of a bobsled team who operates the brake.
  5. Also called breaker. Textiles. a tool or machine for breaking up flax or hemp, to separate the fiber.
  6. Also called press brake. a machine for bending sheet metal to a desired shape.
  7. Obsolete. an old instrument of torture.

verb (used with object), braked, brak·ing.

  1. to slow or stop by means of or as if by means of a brake.
  2. to furnish with brakes.
  3. to process (flax or hemp) by crushing it in a brake.

verb (used without object), braked, brak·ing.

  1. to use or run a brake.
  2. to stop or slow upon being braked.
  3. to run a hoisting machine.

Origin of brake 1 1400–50; late Middle English Middle Dutch, Middle Low German; akin to break Related formsbrake·less, adjectiveSynonyms for brake 8. halt, arrest, stay, restrain; curb, curtail. brake 2[breyk] noun

  1. a place overgrown with bushes, brambles, or cane.

Origin of brake 2 1400–50; late Middle English (in phrase brake of fern thicket of fern) Middle Low German brake thicket brake 3[breyk] noun

  1. any of several large or coarse ferns, especially the bracken, Pteridium aquilinum.

Origin of brake 3 1275–1325; Middle English brake, probably by back formation from braken bracken, taken as plural brake 4[breyk] verb Archaic.

  1. simple past tense of break.

Related Words for brakes damper, restraint, decelerate, impede, control, discouragement, constraint, deterrent, hamper, obstacle, curb, hindrance, hurdle, rein, anchor, hinder, obstruct, slow, bar Examples from the Web for brakes Contemporary Examples of brakes

  • The woman allegedly decided to hit her brakes suddenly and veer toward an exit, losing Tirico.

    World Cup Anchor Mike Tirico’s Bizarre History: Reports of Stalking and Sexual Harassment

    Marlow Stern

    July 1, 2014

  • But she pumped the brakes when she found out she was pregnant with her second daughter.

    ‘Sheezus’ Talks: Lily Allen on Her New Album, Lena Dunham, and ‘Game of Thrones’

    Marlow Stern

    May 9, 2014

  • “I just slammed on the brakes and damn near had an accident,” says the legendary singer, dancer and actress.

    Rita Moreno, SAG Life Achievement Award Winner, Talks Brando, Elvis And West Side Story

    Sandra McElwaine

    January 15, 2014

  • Both the non-handshake and his speech might be seen as Rouhani tapping the brakes, not slamming them.

    Rouhani at the U.N.—Disappointment or Success?

    Ali Gharib

    September 25, 2013

  • That would be the job of the brakes, which cannot actually stop hard-packed snow from being, y’know, slippery.

    Note to Drivers: All Wheel Drive Does Not Give You Superpowers, Just a Dangerous Overconfidence

    Megan McArdle

    March 12, 2013

  • Historical Examples of brakes

  • At this juncture the brakes began to shriek and grind upon the wheels.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • Philip drew a long breath: there was a cloud of dust; the women in the brakes were laughing.

    The Manxman

    Hall Caine

  • The truck came to a jarring stop as the driver jammed on the brakes.

    The Coyote

    James Roberts

  • He sounded two long whistle blasts as a signal to throw off brakes.

    Cab and Caboose

    Kirk Munroe

  • Tom had shut off the engine and applied the brakes, as the girls shrieked.

    Ruth Fielding and the Gypsies

    Alice B. Emerson

  • British Dictionary definitions for brakes brake 1 noun

      1. (often plural)a device for slowing or stopping a vehicle, wheel, shaft, etc, or for keeping it stationary, esp by means of frictionSee also drum brake, disc brake, hydraulic brake, air brake, handbrake
      2. (as modifier)the brake pedal
    1. a machine or tool for crushing or breaking flax or hemp to separate the fibres
    2. Also called: brake harrow a heavy harrow for breaking up clods
    3. short for brake van
    4. short for shooting brake
    5. an open four-wheeled horse-drawn carriageAlso spelt: break
    6. an obsolete word for rack 1 (def. 4)


    1. to slow down or cause to slow down, by or as if by using a brake
    2. (tr) to crush or break up using a brake

    Derived Formsbrakeless, adjectiveWord Origin for brake C18: from Middle Dutch braeke; related to breken to break brake 2 noun

    1. an area of dense undergrowth, shrubs, brushwood, etc; thicket

    Word Origin for brake Old English bracu; related to Middle Low German brake, Old French bracon branch brake 3 noun

    1. another name for bracken (def. 1) See also rock brake

    brake 4 verb

    1. archaic, mainly biblical a past tense of break

    Word Origin and History for brakes brake n.1

    mid-15c., “instrument for crushing or pounding,” from Middle Dutch braeke “flax brake,” from breken “to break” (see break (v.)). The word was applied to many crushing implements and to the ring through the nose of a draught ox. It was influenced in sense by Old French brac, a form of bras “an arm,” thus “a lever or handle,” which was being used in English from late 14c., and applied to “a bridle or curb” from early 15c. One or the other or both took up the main modern meaning of “stopping device for a wheel,” first attested 1772.

    brake n.2

    kind of fern, early 14c.; see bracken.

    brake v.

    “to apply a brake to a wheel,” 1868, from brake (n.1). Earlier, “to beat flax” (late 14c.). Related: Braked; braking.

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