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[breys] /breɪs/
something that holds parts together or in place, as a clasp or clamp.
anything that imparts rigidity or steadiness.
Also called bitbrace, bitstock. Machinery. a device for holding and turning a bit for boring or drilling.
Building Trades. a piece of timber, metal, etc., for supporting or positioning another piece or portion of a framework.
Nautical. (on a square-rigged ship) a rope by which a yard is swung about and secured horizontally.
Music. leather loops sliding upon the tightening cords of a drum to change their tension and the drum's pitch.
Often, braces. Dentistry. a round or flat metal wire placed against the surfaces of the teeth for straightening irregularly arranged teeth.
Medicine/Medical. an appliance for supporting a weak joint or joints.
braces, Chiefly British. suspender (def 1).
a pair; couple:
a brace of grouse.
  1. one of two characters { or } used to enclose words or lines to be considered together.
  2. bracket (def 7).
Music. connected staves.
a protective band covering the wrist or lower part of the arm, especially a bracer.
Military. a position of attention with exaggeratedly stiff posture.
verb (used with object), braced, bracing.
to furnish, fasten, or strengthen with or as if with a brace.
to fix firmly; make steady; secure against pressure or impact:
He braces himself when the ship rolls. Brace yourself for some bad news.
to make tight; increase the tension of.
to act as a stimulant to.
Nautical. to swing or turn around (the yards of a ship) by means of the braces.
Military. to order (a subordinate) to assume and maintain a brace.
verb (used without object), braced, bracing.
Military. to assume a brace.
Verb phrases
brace in, Nautical. to brace (the yards of a square-rigged vessel) more nearly athwartships, as for running free.
brace up, Informal. to summon up one's courage; become resolute:
She choked back her tears and braced up.
Origin of brace
1300-50; (noun) Middle English < Anglo-French, Old French: pair of arms < Latin brā(c)chia plural (taken as feminine singular) of brā(c)chium arm (< Greek; see brachium); (v.) in part Middle English bracen (< Anglo-French bracier, derivative of brace; cf. embrace1), in participle derivative of the noun
Related forms
overbrace, verb (used with object), overbraced, overbracing.
rebrace, verb (used with object), rebraced, rebracing.
underbrace, noun
underbrace, verb (used with object), underbraced, underbracing.
well-braced, adjective
1. vise. 4. stay, prop, strut. 10. See pair. 15. support, fortify, prop. 17. tauten, tense. 18. fortify. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for brace
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • brace your belt, Watkins, man, and swing your shoulders as a free companion should.

    The White Company Arthur Conan Doyle
  • One felt tempted to brace oneself for the rush that was to come.

    Chip, of the Flying U B. M. Bower
  • Bill let go the brace, turned as white as a sheet, and exclaimed, "I'm gone!"

    Ned Myers James Fenimore Cooper
  • Bring some of that cake you baked to-day, honey—and do brace up!

    Good Indian B. M. Bower
  • I'll show you whether there's a second brace o' keys or not.

    The Channings Mrs. Henry Wood
British Dictionary definitions for brace


a hand tool for drilling holes, with a socket to hold the drill at one end and a cranked handle by which the tool can be turned In full hand brace See also brace and bit
something that steadies, binds, or holds up another thing
a structural member, such as a beam or prop, used to stiffen a framework
a sliding loop, usually of leather, attached to the cords of a drum: used to change its tension
a pair; two, esp of game birds: a brace of partridges
either of a pair of characters, { }, used for connecting lines of printing or writing or as a third sign of aggregation in complex mathematical or logical expressions that already contain parentheses and square brackets
Also called accolade. a line or bracket connecting two or more staves of music
(often pl) an appliance of metal bands and wires that can be tightened to maintain steady pressure on the teeth for correcting uneven alignment
(med) any of various appliances for supporting the trunk, a limb, or teeth
another word for bracer2
(in square-rigged sailing ships) a rope that controls the movement of a yard and thus the position of a sail
See braces
verb (mainly transitive)
to provide, strengthen, or fit with a brace
to steady or prepare (oneself or something) as before an impact
(also intransitive) to stimulate; freshen; invigorate: sea air is bracing
to control the horizontal movement of (the yards of a square-rigged sailing ship)
Word Origin
C14: from Old French: the two arms, from Latin bracchia arms
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for brace

early 14c., "piece of armor for the arms," also "thong, strap for fastening," from Old French brace, braz "arms," also "length measured by two arms" (12c., Modern French bras "arm, power;" brasse "fathom, armful, breaststroke"), from Latin bracchia, plural of bracchium "an arm, a forearm," from Greek brakhion "an arm" (see brachio-). Applied to various devices for fastening and tightening on notion of clasping arms. Of dogs, "a couple, a pair" from c.1400.


mid-14c., "to seize, grasp," also "wrap, enshroud; tie up, fetter," from Old French bracier "to embrace," from brace (see brace (n.)). Meaning "to render firm or steady by tensing" is mid-15c., earlier in figurative sense "strengthen or comfort" (someone), early 15c., with later extension to tonics, etc. that "brace" the nerves (cf. bracer "stiff drink"). Related: Braced; bracing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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brace in Medicine

brace (brās)

  1. An orthopedic appliance that supports or holds a movable part of the body in correct position while allowing motion of the part.

  2. Often braces A dental appliance, constructed of bands and wires that is fixed to the teeth to correct irregular alignment.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for brace



A very stiff and exaggerated standing at military attention (1930s+ Armed forces and service academies)


  1. To stop or approach a person and beg for money: This panhandler came up to me and braced me (1890+)
  2. To confront someone with an accusation: this would be a good chance to brace Bubba's wife without her husband being present (1950s+)
  3. : The sergeant ordered her to brace

Related Terms

splice the main brace

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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