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Brake vs. Break

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  Angbeen Chaudhary  —  Grammar Tips
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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:

Break is used as a verb which means to separate into pieces as a result of a blow, shock, or strain.

The rope broke with a loud snap.

Break also means to interrupt (a continuity, sequence, or course).

The new government broke the pattern of growth.

To fail to observe (a law, regulation, or agreement) is also termed as break.

The council says it will prosecute traders who break the law.

To crush the emotional strength, spirit, or resistance of.

The idea was to better the prisoners, not to break them.

Break as noun:

Break is used as a noun which means an interruption of continuity or uniformity.

The magazine has been published without a break since 1950.

Brake as noun:

Brake is noun which means a device for slowing or stopping a moving vehicle, typically by applying pressure to the wheels.

He slammed on his brakes.

Brake vs. Break

Brake as verb:

Brake is used as a verb which means to make a moving vehicle slow down or stop by using a brake.

She had to brake hard to avoid a milk float.


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)

Motorist plummets down a hill after confusing clutch for brake in epic parking fail (The Mirror)

A back wheel and part of the braking system fell off a Delta Air Lines plane during takeoff from Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport last week, Israeli television reported Sunday. (The Times of Israel)

Why did Russian plane break up in the air over the Sinai desert?  (The Guardian)

Officials break ground on development at Lake St. and Hiawatha Av. site (The Star Tribune)

Authorities are responding to a gas main break Monday morning on Route 72, authorities said. (The Asbury Park Press)

Coronation Street’s Brooke Vincent is set to take a break from the soap after more than a decade. (The Irish Examiner)

“I hate the word breaking — it’s more like educating,” Moore said. “If you break a horse, it’s like that old cowboy thing that you’re breaking the spirit” (Newsday)

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.


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