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in a brace of shakes
Instantly, quickly, or in an extremely short amount of time, as of a task or event. "Brace," taken from the old French for the arms' breadth from hand to hand, means twice; the phrase as a whole refers either to an old nautical term, meaning the time it takes the sail to shake twice as it takes up the wind, or else the short time it takes to shake a dice-box twice. I'll have that ready for you in a brace of shakes. We'll be there in a brace of shakes.
splice the mainbrace
nautical To issue and partake in an extra ration of alcoholic spirits, especially rum or grog, amongst members of crew aboard a sea vessel. (The mainbrace, also spelled "main brace," is a brace attached to the main yard on sailing ships. "Splicing the mainbrace" was originally the very difficult job of repairing this brace, one which earned the repairman an extra ration of spirits; eventually, this euphemistic secondary meaning became the primary one.) As part of the celebrations for her Diamond Jubilee, the Queen gave the order to all in the Royal Navy to splice the mainbrace as a gesture of good cheer.
See also: splice
brace of shakes
Instantly, quickly, or in an extremely short amount of time, as of a task or event. "Brace," taken from the old French for the arms' breadth from hand to hand, means twice; the phrase as a whole refers either to an old nautical term, meaning the time it takes the sail to shake twice as it takes up the wind, or else the short time it takes to shake a dice-box twice. Often used in the phrase "in a brace of shakes." I'll have that ready for you in a brace of shakes. We'll be there in a brace of shakes.
belt and braces
A multipronged, perhaps excessively cautious, approach to try to ensure a particular outcome. Even though I'd set the alarm clock in my room, I still asked the front desk for a wake-up call. I felt I had to go belt and braces to ensure that I'm not late for the big meeting tomorrow morning.
brace (oneself) for (something)
To physically or mentally prepare oneself for something, typically something that is imminent, in an attempt to limit any adverse impact. I braced myself for that big bump by holding onto the seat in front of me. I had braced myself for rejection, so hearing that I'd gotten the promotion was a very pleasant surprise!
See also: brace
brace oneself for something
1. Lit. to hang onto something or prop oneself against something in preparation for something that might cause one to fall, blow away, wash away, etc. Hold onto the rail. Brace yourself. Here comes another huge wave.
2. Fig. to prepare for the shock or force of something. Brace yourself for a shock. As the boat leaned to the right, I braced myself for whatever might happen next.
See also: brace
brace someone or something up
to prop up or add support to someone or something. They braced the tree up for the expected windstorm. They braced up the tree again after the storm.
to take heart; to be brave. Brace up! Things could be worse. I told John to brace up because things would probably get worse before they got better.
Also, brace oneself. Summon up one's courage or resolve, as in Brace up, we don't have much farther to go, or Squaring his shoulders, he braced himself for the next wave. This idiom uses brace in the sense of "to bolster" or "to strengthen." The first term dates from the early 1700s, the variant from about 1500.
belt and bracesBRITISH
If someone has a belt and braces approach to doing something, they take extra precautions to make sure that it will work properly. A trawl of the computer system should reveal if customers were charged too much. `It's a belt and braces approach to check for irregularities,' said the bank. He described airport security as an overly belt and braces approach, at huge cost to industry. Note: Trousers that are held up by a belt as well as a pair of braces (= two straps over the shoulder) are less likely to fall down.
1. To provide something or someone with additional support; prop up someone or something: We used plywood to brace up the wall paneling. The old tower would have fallen down if we hadn't braced it up.
2. To prepare or strengthen someone or something to face some challenge: We braced up the car for the road race. They gave me some encouraging words to brace me up for the interview. I'm glad you were braced up for your exams.
3. To summon one's strength or endurance; prepare to face a challenge: I spent all day bracing up for my performance in the concert that evening.