Pump Your Brakes

What does Pump Your Brakes mean?

Take a moment and think

If someone tells you to “pump your brakes”, they’re advising you to pause and reconsider your current actions. The phrase is often used when someone is being overzealous or hasty, and needs to slow down and think things through.

The term originates from the pre-anti-lock brake era when drivers had to physically pump their car’s brakes to prevent skidding during a sudden stop. The pumping action allowed the car wheels to keep moving while the car was slowing down, helping the driver maintain control and avoid veering off the road.

Over time, the phrase “pump your brakes” became a figurative way to tell someone to stop and reassess their situation. It’s a way to remind someone to think before they act, especially when they’re making assumptions or not considering potential consequences.

So, if you see someone acting prematurely based on an assumption, or not thinking about the possible results of their actions, you can advise them to “pump their brakes”. It’s a handy slang term that encourages caution and thoughtfulness.

Example for using ‘Pump Your Brakes’ in a conversation

Hey, did you hear that Sarah thinks she’s going to win the lottery tomorrow?

Wow, really? She needs to pump her brakes. That’s just wishful thinking.

I know, right? She’s always jumping to conclusions without considering the reality of the situation.

Exactly. Someone needs to tell her to pump her brakes and think before getting her hopes up.