The Quick Answer
A brake is a device for slowing a moving vehicle. To brake is the verb.
(Note: It's quite rare, but brake is also the word for a four-wheeled horse carriage and also a machine for crushing hemp.)
Break most commonly means a period of rest or an interruption of continuity. (More below)
Brake and Break
The words break
sound identical, but their meanings are quite different.
The word brake
has several meanings:
A device for slowing a moving vehicle (typically by adding friction to the wheels).
In this meaning, brake is a noun.
- You do know that the brake is the pedal in the middle, don't you?
- Please apply the handbrake.
Of course, there is also the associated verb:
- Yes, very clever. It's time to brake now. Errr, now!
An open horse-drawn carriage with four wheels.|
A toothed instrument used for crushing flax and hemp.|
The word break
has many meanings:
To separate into pieces (as a result of a block, shock, or pressure).
It can also be used figuratively:
- Shatterproof ruler? I managed to break it before I'd left the shop!
- If God lived on earth, people would break his
windows. (Jewish Proverb)
In this meaning, break is a verb. It is like to crack, to smash, or to shatter.
- That would break my heart.
- Adversity causes some men to break — others to break records.(William Arthur Ward)
There is also the associated noun:
- I can see the break on the x-ray.
(This is like the meaning below, i.e., an interruption of continuity.)
A period of rest or an interruption of continuity.
In this meaning, break is a noun. It is like interval, pause, or gap.
- I need to take a break.
(a period of rest)
- There is a break in the pattern.
(an interruption of continuity)
To infringe or disobey.
In this meaning, break is a verb.
- Please do not break my trust in you.
- It is much easier to break the rules when one's surrounded by strangers. One does not know any of them, so one cannot really care for their opinion. (Monica Fairview)
- Men keep agreements when it is to the advantage of neither to break them. (Solon, 638 BC-559 BC)