from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A device that holds or fastens two or more parts together or in place; a clamp.
  • noun A device, such as a supporting beam in a building or a connecting wire or rope, that steadies or holds something else erect.
  • noun Chiefly British Suspenders.
  • noun An orthopedic appliance used to support, align, or hold a bodily part in the correct position.
  • noun A dental appliance constructed of bands and wires that is fixed to the teeth to correct irregular alignment.
  • noun An extremely stiff, erect posture.
  • noun A cause or source of renewed physical or spiritual vigor.
  • noun A protective pad strapped to the bow arm of an archer.
  • noun Nautical A rope by which a yard is swung and secured on a square-rigged ship.
  • noun A cranklike handle with an adjustable aperture at one end for securing and turning a bit.
  • noun Music A leather loop that slides to change the tension on the cord of a drum.
  • noun A vertical line, usually accompanied by the symbol {, connecting two or more staffs.
  • noun A set of staffs connected in this way.
  • noun A symbol, { or }, enclosing two or more lines of text or listed items to show that they are considered as a unit.
  • noun Mathematics Either of a pair of symbols, { }, used to indicate aggregation or to clarify the grouping of quantities when parentheses and square brackets have already been used.
  • noun A pair of like things.
  • intransitive verb To furnish with a brace.
  • intransitive verb To support or hold steady with or as if with a brace; reinforce.
  • intransitive verb To prepare or position so as to be ready for impact or danger.
  • intransitive verb To confront with questions or requests.
  • intransitive verb To increase the tension of.
  • intransitive verb To invigorate; stimulate.
  • intransitive verb Nautical To turn (the yards of a ship) by the braces.
  • intransitive verb To get ready; make preparations.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In mining, the flooring around the mouth of a shaft.
  • noun In any frame, a stiff piece, as a bar or strip, put in to prevent a parallelogram or the like from changing its shape under pressure or strain.
  • noun Same as brace-head.
  • noun A short, thick bar lying above the suture between two pyramids in the dental apparatus of Echinus.
  • noun In saddlery, the short strap which connects the hip-strap and the breeching-body.
  • noun An old measure of weight. A Hurley brace was equal to 4 cwt.
  • noun In mining, a platform at the top of a shaft on which miners stand to work the tackle.
  • To clasp or grasp; embrace; hold firmly.
  • To bind or tie closely; fit or secure by ties; bandage; strap.
  • To string or bend (a bow) by putting the eye of the string in the upper nock preparatory to shooting.
  • To make tense; strain up; increase the tension, tone, or vigor of; strengthen: used both literally and figuratively: as, to brace the nerves.
  • To fix in the position of a brace; hold firmly in place: used reflexively: as, to brace one's self against a post or a crowd.
  • To furnish with, or support or prop by, braces: as, to brace a building or a falling wall.
  • Nautical, to swing or turn around (the yards of a ship) by means of the braces.
  • In writing and printing, to unite or connect by a brace, as two or more lines, staves of music, etc.
  • To increase the tension, tone, or vigor of: often used intransitively with the object understood.
  • noun A prop or support; specifically, in architecture, a piece of timber placed near and across the angles in the frame of a building in order to strengthen it. When used to support a rafter it is called a strut.
  • noun That which holds two or more things firmly together; a cincture or bandage.
  • noun A pair; a couple: as, a brace of ducks: used of persons only with a shade of contempt or colloquially.
  • noun A thick strap by which a carriage-body is suspended from C-springs.
  • noun In printing, a vertical double-curved line, used to connect two or more lines: thus, , or two or more staves in music.
  • noun A leather band placed about the cords of a drum and sliding upon them: used to raise or lower the tone by increasing or lessening the tension of the cords: as, “the braces of the war drum,”
  • noun plural Straps passing over the shoulders to sustain the trousers; suspenders.
  • noun A device for supporting a weak back, curved shoulders, etc.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old French, the two arms, from Vulgar Latin *bracia, from Latin bracchia, brāchia, pl. of bracchium, brāchium, arm, from Greek brakhīōn, upper arm; see mregh-u- in Indo-European roots. V., partly from Old French bracier, from Old French brace, the two arms.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French brace ("arm"), from Latin bracchia, the nominative and accusative plural of Latin bracchium ("arm").


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word brace.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • One of those words that has sooo many meanings.

    December 1, 2007

  • Whoops... most of the conversation about those meanings has been taking place on John's list.

    December 2, 2007

  • This correspondence was prohibited before, and that, to the daughter, in the strongest terms: but yet carried on by both: although a brace of impeccables, and please ye.

    Lovelace to Belford, Clarissa by Samuel Richardson

    December 10, 2007

  • July 23, 2008

  • Oh. Brace as in a pair of something. Not my best day with a crossword puzzle.

    October 25, 2011