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Similar Sounding Commonly Confused Words: Brake and Break


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The words brake and break are pronounced in a similar manner but have different meanings.

The word brake is a noun.
It can be used in two ways:
(a) In reference to a vehicle’s device that brings it to a stop. It could be the footbrake, the handbrake or the brake of any machine. Note that in this sense it is not used in the singular sense but in the plural.

(b) In another sense the word brake has the following meanings: constraint, curb, check, deterrent; limitation. Antonym: incentive.

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The word break can be used both as a verb and as a noun.

As a verb break means: smash; fracture; rupture; shatter; crack; sever. Antonym: mend.

As a noun break means: split; hole; gap; breach; fissure.
It can also refer to: chance; opportunity; opening.


Sample Usage

Examples of brake:
(a) In reference to a vehicle or machine:
1. The driver of the truck failed to use the brakes in time and crashed into the car ahead of him.
2. The mechanic was quick in getting the brakes repaired.
3. The crane operator stamped his foot on the brake before the huge machine could get out of control.

(b) Other usages of brake:
1. It is high time that an official law was implemented to put a complete brake to dangerous bike racing on city roads.
2. The coach put a brake on the pub-hopping activities of the team.
3. It is a good idea to put a brake on your child’s late night TV viewing.

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Examples of break as a verb:
1. The firemen decided to break open the lift door to rescue the people trapped inside.
2. To break into the safe would be a tough task.
3. The glass panes of the window were very thick and the thief found it difficult to break them even with his fancy tools.

Examples of break as a noun:
(a) In reference to a gap or split:
1. The break in the bushes helped the trekker to crawl through.
2. The new owner of the house realized that there was a break in the design on the wall and wondered what had been there earlier.
3. There were sufficient breaks in the window slats to allow the light to stream through into the room.

(b) In reference to a chance or an opportunity:
1. The student got a break when he was awarded the scholarship.
2. The swimmer was happy to get his big break – being selected for the national team.
3. The thief got an unexpected break when the lights went off and he was able to escape in the dark.


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