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brake1

[breyk]
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.
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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.
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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.
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Origin of brake1

1400–50; late Middle English < Middle Dutch, Middle Low German; akin to break
Related formsbrake·less, adjective

Synonyms

brake2

[breyk]
noun
  1. a place overgrown with bushes, brambles, or cane.
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Origin of brake2

1400–50; late Middle English (in phrase brake of fern thicket of fern) < Middle Low German brake thicket

brake3

[breyk]
noun
  1. any of several large or coarse ferns, especially the bracken, Pteridium aquilinum.
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Origin of brake3

1275–1325; Middle English brake, probably by back formation from braken bracken, taken as plural

brake4

[breyk]
verb Archaic.
  1. simple past tense of break.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

damperrestraintdecelerateimpedecontroldiscouragementconstraintdeterrenthamperobstaclecurbhindrancehurdlereinanchorhinderobstructslowbar

Examples from the Web for brakes

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • 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.


British Dictionary definitions for brakes

brake1

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)
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verb
  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
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Derived Formsbrakeless, adjective

Word Origin

C18: from Middle Dutch braeke; related to breken to break

brake2

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

Old English bracu; related to Middle Low German brake, Old French bracon branch

brake3

noun
  1. another name for bracken (def. 1) See also rock brake
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brake4

verb
  1. archaic, mainly biblical a past tense of break
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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

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.

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brake

n.2

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

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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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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper