brake (n.1)

mid-15c., "instrument for crushing or pounding," from Middle Dutch braeke "flax brake," from breken "to break" (see break (v.)). The word was applied to many crushing implements, especially the tool for breaking up the woody part of flax to loosen the fibers. It also was applied to the ring through the nose of a draught ox. It was influenced in sense by Old French brac, a form of bras "an arm," thus the sense "a lever or handle," which was being used in English from late 14c., and "a bridle or curb" (early 15c.).

One or the other sense or a convergence of all of them yielded the main modern meaning "mechanical device for arresting the motion of a wheel," which is attested by 1772.

brake (n.2)

kind of fern, early 14c.; see bracken.

brake (v.)

"to apply a brake to a wheel," 1868, from brake (n.1). Earlier, "to beat flax" (late 14c.). Related: Braked; braking.

brake (n.3)

"thicket; place overgrown with bushes, brambles, or brushwood," mid-15c., originally "fern-brake, thicket of fern," perhaps from or related to Middle Low German brake "rough or broken ground," from the root of break (v.). Or, more likely, from Middle English brake "fern" (c. 1300), from Old Norse (compare Swedish bräken, Danish bregne), and related to bracken. In the U.S., applied to cane thickets.

updated on October 06, 2018

Definitions of brake from WordNet
brake (n.)
a restraint used to slow or stop a vehicle;
brake (n.)
any of various ferns of the genus Pteris having pinnately compound leaves and including several popular houseplants;
brake (n.)
large coarse fern often several feet high; essentially weed ferns; cosmopolitan;
Synonyms: bracken / pasture brake / Pteridium aquilinum
brake (n.)
an area thickly overgrown usually with one kind of plant;
brake (n.)
anything that slows or hinders a process;
she wan not ready to put the brakes on her life with a marriage
new legislation will put the brakes on spending
brake (v.)
stop travelling by applying a brake;
We had to brake suddenly when a chicken crossed the road
brake (v.)
cause to stop by applying the brakes;
brake the car before you go into a curve
Etymologies are not definitions. From, not affiliated with etymonline.