Jam on the brakes


      • to sudden stop or slow down
        To apply the brakes of a vehicle suddenly and forcefully in order to stop or slow down quickly, often in response to a dangerous or unexpected situation

      • to halt or pause something
        To abruptly stop or interrupt a process or activity

    Examples of Jam on the brakes

    • I had to jam on the brakes when a deer suddenly appeared in the road.

      To "jam on the brakes" is to apply one's brakes suddenly and forcefully. In this example, the speaker encountered an unexpected obstacle in their path (the deer) and had to quickly and forcefully apply their brakes to avoid running into it. The use of this idiom adds a sense of urgency and excitement to the scene.

    • The driver slammed on the brakes when she saw a child dart into the street.

      This idiomatic expression means that the driver applied the brakes suddenly and forcefully in order to stop the car rapidly. The image of "jamming" or pressing the brakes as hard as possible in order to stop the car "on the brakes" reflects the rapid response required when encountering an unexpected obstacle or danger, such as a child running into the street.

    • The car in front of us suddenly came to a halt, forcing us to jam on the brakes as well.

      In this example, "jamming on the brakes" is used to describe the rapid application of the brakes in response to a sudden and unexpected event, namely the car in front of us coming to a sudden stop. The phrase "forced us to" highlights the involuntary nature of this reaction, underscoring the intensity of the situation and the urgency required in order to avoid colliding with the vehicle in front of us.

    • The car in front of us was traveling at a high speed, and we didn't want to rear-end them, so we had to jam on the brakes and swerve in order to avoid a collision.

      This example illustrates the use of "jam on the brakes" in a more complex sentence, where it is used in conjunction with another action, in this case "swerving." The phrase "didn't want to rear-end them" indicates the potential danger of following too closely and emphasizes the importance of taking swift and decisive action in order to avoid a collision. The use of "swerve" reflects the necessity of maneuvering the vehicle in order to avoid an accident, while "jamming on the brakes" is used to signify the rapid application of the brakes required in order to prevent a collision.

    • As we approached the intersection, the traffic light turned red, causing us to jam on the brakes and wait for the light to change.

      This example showcases the use of "jam on the brakes" within the context of a routine traffic scenario. The phrase "caused us to jam on the brakes" highlights the unavoidable nature of this action and underscores the importance of obeying traffic signals in order to ensure the safety of all drivers and pedestrians. The use of "wait for the light to change" signifies the relatively long wait required before the traffic signal turns green, emphasizing the need for patience and caution in order to avoid dangerous situations on the road.


    The idiom "jam on the brakes" is used to describe both the action of suddenly stopping or slowing down, particularly while driving, and also to indicate halting or pausing something abruptly. It can be used in a literal sense, such as when driving a car and needing to brake suddenly to avoid an accident, or in a figurative sense, to describe stopping or interrupting a process or activity.

    Origin of "Jam on the brakes"

    The origin of the idiom "jam on the brakes" comes from the literal action of jamming, or forcefully pressing down, on the brakes of a vehicle. The word "jam" in this context denotes a sudden and forceful action, mirroring the sudden and forceful application of the brakes. This idiom likely originated from the early days of automobiles when manual brakes required a significant amount of force to operate effectively.

    Over time, the phrase "jam on the brakes" has been adopted into everyday language to describe any sudden or forceful stop or pause, not just in the context of driving. It has become a common idiom used to convey the idea of abrupt stopping or interrupting a process.