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

  • n. A device for slowing or stopping motion, as of a vehicle, especially by contact friction.
  • n. Something that slows or stops action.
  • transitive v. To reduce the speed of with or as if with a brake.
  • intransitive v. To operate or apply a brake.
  • intransitive v. To be slowed or stopped by or as if by the operation of a brake.
  • n. A toothed device for crushing and beating flax or hemp.
  • n. A heavy harrow for breaking clods of earth.
  • n. An apparatus for kneading large amounts of dough.
  • n. A machine for bending and folding sheet metal.
  • transitive v. To crush (flax or hemp) in a toothed device.
  • transitive v. To break up (clods of earth) with a harrow.
  • n. A lever or handle on a machine such as a pump.
  • n. Any of various ferns of the genus Pteris having pinnately compound leaves and including several popular houseplants.
  • n. Any of certain other ferns, such as the bracken or the cliff brake.
  • n. An area overgrown with dense brushwood, briers, and undergrowth; a thicket.
  • n. Variant of break.
  • v. Archaic A past tense of break.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A type of machine for bending sheet metal. (See wikipedia.)
  • v. To bruise and crush; to knead
  • v. To pulverise with a harrow
  • n. The handle of a pump.
  • n. Something used to retard or stop some action, process etc.
  • n. The act of braking, of using a brake to slow down a machine or vehicle
  • v. To operate (a) brake(s).
  • v. To be stopped or slowed (as if) by braking.
  • v. Simple past tense and past participle of break.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • imp. of break.
  • n. A fern of the genus Pteris, esp. the Pteris aquilina, common in almost all countries. It has solitary stems dividing into three principal branches. Less properly: Any fern.
  • n. A thicket; a place overgrown with shrubs and brambles, with undergrowth and ferns, or with canes.
  • n. An instrument or machine to break or bruise the woody part of flax or hemp so that it may be separated from the fiber.
  • n. An extended handle by means of which a number of men can unite in working a pump, as in a fire engine.
  • n. A baker's kneading though.
  • n. A sharp bit or snaffle.
  • n. A frame for confining a refractory horse while the smith is shoeing him; also, an inclosure to restrain cattle, horses, etc.
  • n. That part of a carriage, as of a movable battery, or engine, which enables it to turn.
  • n. An ancient engine of war analogous to the crossbow and ballista.
  • n. A large, heavy harrow for breaking clods after plowing; a drag.
  • n. A piece of mechanism for retarding or stopping motion by friction, as of a carriage or railway car, by the pressure of rubbers against the wheels, or of clogs or ratchets against the track or roadway, or of a pivoted lever against a wheel or drum in a machine.
  • n. An apparatus for testing the power of a steam engine, or other motor, by weighing the amount of friction that the motor will overcome; a friction brake.
  • n. A cart or carriage without a body, used in breaking in horses.
  • n. An ancient instrument of torture.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To vomit.
  • To vomit; cast up.
  • To crack or break (the stalks of flax) in order to separate the woody portions from the fiber. Now written break.
  • To retard or stop the motion of by the application of a brake.
  • n. Obsolete or archaic preterit of break.
  • n. A break; brack; flaw.
  • n. A mechanical device for arresting the motion of a vehicle: now usually classed with brake, see braken., 9.
  • n. A tool or machine for breaking up the woody portion of flax, to loosen it from the harl or fibers.
  • n. The handle or lever by which a pump is worked.
  • n. A bakers' kneading-machine.
  • n. A sharp bit or snaffle: as, “a snaffle bit or brake,”
  • n. An apparatus for confining refractory horses while being shod.
  • n. A medieval engine of war analogous to the ballista.
  • n. A large heavy harrow for breaking clods after plowing. Also called drag.
  • n. A kind of wagonette. A large and heavy variety of this vehicle is used for breaking in young horses to harness.
  • n. Any mechanical device for arresting or retarding the motion of a vehicle or car by means of friction.
  • n. The fore part of a carriage, by which it is turned.
  • n. A basket-makers' tool for stripping the bark from willow wands.
  • n. An old instrument of torture. Also called the Duke of Exeter's daughter.
  • n. A place overgrown with bushes or brushwood, shrubs, and brambles; a thicket, in the United States, a cane-brake, that is, a tract of ground overgrown with cane, Arundinaria macrosperma.
  • n. A single bush, or a number of bushes growing by themselves.
  • n. The name given to Pteris aquilina and other large ferns. See Pteris.
  • n. In cracker-baking, a machine for rolling dough, to be used in making gingersnaps and other thin cakes, into sheets ready for the panning-machine.
  • n. In sheet-metal work, a machine for bending and forming sheet-metal, used in making larger forms such as metal cornices; a cornice-brake.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. anything that slows or hinders a process
  • v. stop travelling by applying a brake
  • v. cause to stop by applying the brakes
  • n. an area thickly overgrown usually with one kind of plant
  • n. large coarse fern often several feet high; essentially weed ferns; cosmopolitan
  • n. any of various ferns of the genus Pteris having pinnately compound leaves and including several popular houseplants
  • n. a restraint used to slow or stop a vehicle


Probably brake, bridle, curb, from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German, nose ring, curb, flax brake; see brake2.
Middle English, from Middle Dutch, from Middle Low German; see bhreg- in Indo-European roots.
Middle English, from Old French brac, from oblique form of bras, arm; see bracer2.
Middle English, probably back-formation from braken; see bracken.
Middle English, from Middle Low German; see bhreg- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Apparently a shortened form of bracken. (Compare chick, chicken.) (Wiktionary)
Compare Middle Low German brake. (Wiktionary)
From Old Dutch braeke. (Wiktionary)
Origin uncertain. (Wiktionary)
Origin uncertain. (Wiktionary)
Inflected forms. (Wiktionary)



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  • As in thicket.

    December 10, 2009

  • Also spelled break; a horse-drawn carriage of the 19th and early 20th centuries, with four wheels, designed for country use. The most common brake was called the shooting brake; it carried a driver, a footman or gamekeeper, and up to six sportsmen in the back on lengthwise benches, with dogs, guns, and game carried along the sides in slatted racks.

    The name derives from the fact that it was originally a four-wheeled carriage frame with no body, used to break in inexperienced horse teams.

    October 22, 2008