General English

  • noun a part of a vehicle used for stopping or making it go more slowly
  • verb to slow down by pressing a vehicle’s brakes

General Science

  • verb to slow down or to stop by pressing the brakes

Cars & Driving

  • noun a mechanism for slowing or stopping a vehicle in motion, or for holding it when standing still
  • noun a device for measuring the power of an engine
  • verb to operate the brakes in order to slow down


  • A device for slowing, stopping, and holding an object.
  • A machine used to bend sheet metal.


  • noun a device which regulates the tension of paper as it runs through a machine

Origin & History of “brake”

there are two distinct words brake in English. By far the older is that meaning ‘overgrown area, thicket’ (OE). Its source is uncertain, but it has been speculated that it is ultimately related to break, its original meaning perhaps having been something like ‘broken wood’. Brake ‘decelerating mechanism’ (15th c.) meant ‘bridle’ for stopping a horse’s progress, and may have been borrowed from middle Dutch braeke, a word which was used for a wide variety of crushing implements but also apparently for a ring put through the nose of a draught ox. There may well be some ultimate connection with break here too.