In English, there are countless words that sound exactly the same when you read them out loud but turn out to have completely different meanings. The grammatical term for words like these is homophone. This means they sound alike but are spelled differently and have different meanings. Break vs. brake is an example of a set of homophones. Since these words are so close in their spelling—and identical in their pronunciation—it’s that much more important to keep track of them and not mix them up. In today’s post, I want to go over the definitions of these two words, what separates them from each other, and give you a few tips to remember their difference.
Break originated from Old English brecan (verb), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch breken and German brechen, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin frangere ‘to break’. Brake originated from late Middle English: possibly related to Middle Low German brake and Dutch braak, and perhaps also to break
Break as verb:
The rope broke with a loud snap.
Break as noun:
Brake as noun:
He slammed on his brakes.
Brake as verb:
Britain is seeking an “emergency brake” to allow countries which are in the European Union but outside the euro zone to delay decisions that could threaten their interests, the Financial Times reported. (The Business Insider)
Break or brake:
These two words have different meanings so it’s important to keep brake vs. break apart. Break can be a verb and a noun. As a verb, it means to shatter, to crack, to make unusable. As a noun, it means an action or action of breaking. Brake can also be used as a verb and a noun. As a verb, it means to use the brakes on a vehicle. As a noun, it refers to the mechanical device used to stop cars while moving. A good trick to remember the difference between these words is to think of break as breakfast. You take a break to have breakfast. If you can remember this, you will be able to keep it separated from brake.