put the brakes on


put the brakes on

Meaning | Synonyms

  • to stop or slow down an activity
  • to stop something or someone from progressing with a task or an intention
  • rein in
  • slow down

Example Sentences

  1. The economic situation is not looking good because of Brexit and this making the Prime Minister put the brakes on international investments.
  2. Our boss put the brakes on executing our proposal because he felt insulted by Charles.
  3. She insulted my mother, so I had to put the brakes on
  4. The newly implemented rules will help put the brakes on gang war.


The origin of this phrase can be ascribed to the men of the underworld of 1850s Detroit. Legend has it that the rate of organized crime at that time was so high that a lot of Mafia factions existed. However, as with all things, there is always an alpha. In this case, it was this really brutal family that didn’t waste any time sending graphic warnings to whoever tried to cross them. They usually ensured that their enemies or whoever disrespected them publicly or privately were executed. They were said to “put the brakes” on these people. The expression caught on and over the years the meaning moved from the really gruesome to the mild as it can now be used to describe stopping someone and not by killing them.

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