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Brake vs. Break

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  Angbeen Chaudhary  —  Grammar Tips
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English language is filled with difficult and puzzling type of words. One of the type of words is homophones that are pronounced the same way but mean and spell differently. The words we are discussing today are one of the common pairs of homophones; break and brake.

With the help of this article, I will illustrate the difference between the two words, highlighting their contextual meanings. At end, I would explain a useful trick to help you utilize both of the words accurately in your writing instantly.


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 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:

Both the words even though sound the same, they have different meanings with different use in the English language. Brake is both a verb and a noun. As a noun, it is a word used as mechanic device to stop a vehicle and to carry out that action out is considered a verb. Remember, a person breakdowns when his brakes fail.

Brake vs. Break

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1 Comment
  • W.S
    Thank you. Great explanation!
    Could you please clarify the word "breakdowns" in the example "a person breakdowns when his brakes fail."?

    Shouldn't it be "breaks down"?
    LikeReply 23 years ago


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