Brake and Break

The words break and brake 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).
  • You do know that the brake is the pedal in the middle, don't you?
  • Please apply the handbrake.
In this meaning, brake is a noun.

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).
  • 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)
It can also be used figuratively:
  • That would break my heart.
  • Adversity causes some men to break — others to break records.(William Arthur Ward)
In this meaning, break is a verb. It is like to crack, to smash, or to shatter.

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.
  • I need to take a break.
  • (a period of rest)
  • There is a break in the pattern.
  • (an interruption of continuity)
In this meaning, break is a noun. It is like interval, pause, or gap.
To infringe or disobey.
  • 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)
In this meaning, break is a verb.

A Quick Test


Some vehicles slow down by jamming a spike in the ground. The spike rakes the ground causing vehicle to decelerate. Let the rake in brake remind you that brake is used for slowing a vehicle.


Let the re in break remind you of the word rest.