I. brake 1 /breɪk/ BrE AmE noun [countable]
1 . [often plural] a piece of equipment that makes a vehicle go more slowly or stop:
Test your brakes after driving through water.
I managed to put the brakes on just in time.
Moira slammed on the brakes (=used them suddenly and with a lot of force) .
apply the brakes formal :
He applied the brakes but failed to stop in time.
the rear/front brakes
the screech of brakes (=the loud unpleasant noise they can make)
⇨ ↑ anti-lock braking system , ↑ emergency brake , ↑ handbrake , ↑ parking brake
2 . act as a brake on something to make something develop more slowly, be more difficult to do, or happen less:
Rises in interest rates act as a brake on expenditure.
3 . put the brakes on something to stop something that is happening
• • •
▪ put the brakes on (=use the brakes)
Put the brakes on – you’re going too fast.
▪ apply the brakes formal (=use them)
Apply the brakes as you approach the roundabout.
▪ slam on/jam on/hit the brakes (=use them suddenly and with a lot of force)
The car in front stopped suddenly and I had to slam on the brakes.
▪ release the brake (=stop using the foot or hand brake)
The traffic lights turned green and I released the brake.
▪ brakes fail (=do not work when you use them)
Going down the mountain I was afraid the brakes might fail.
▪ brakes screech (=make a high noise when you use them)
The brakes screeched and the train finally stopped.
■ ADJECTIVES/NOUN + brake
▪ faulty (=not working properly)
Faulty brakes may have caused the accident.
The brakes could have been faulty.
▪ the rear/front brakes (=for the rear/front wheels)
The rear brakes were ineffective.
▪ the foot brake (=one you apply with your foot, to slow the car down)
He stamped on the foot brake.
▪ the hand brake ( also the emergency brake , the parking brake American English ) (=one you apply with your hand, to stop the car moving when parked)
I tried to drive off with the hand brake still on.
▪ anti-lock brakes (=that do not cause the wheels to lock and skid if the brakes are used suddenly)
The car comes equipped with anti-lock brakes.
■ brake + NOUN
▪ the brake pedal (=that you press with your foot)
She pressed the brake pedal but nothing happened.
▪ brake failure (=when brakes do not work)
What should you do in the event of a brake failure?
▪ the screech of brakes (=the loud unpleasant sound of a car stopping suddenly)
I heard the screech of brakes in the road outside.
II. brake 2 BrE AmE verb [intransitive]
to make a vehicle or bicycle go more slowly or stop by using its brake
brake sharply/hard (=brake quickly)
He braked sharply to avoid the dog.