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From Middle High German radebrechen (break on the wheel), the sense of "torturing a language" by speaking it badly is recorded from the end of the 16th century.



radebrechen (third-person singular simple present radebrecht or radebricht, past tense radebrechte or radebrach, past participle geradebrecht or geradebrochen or radegebrochen, auxiliary haben)

  1. to speak broken English, French, etc., to smatter a language (speak a language with only slight knowledge) (literally to break on the wheel)
  2. to speak pidgin

Usage notes[edit]

Only the weak (regular) verb forms are standard, but the strong forms (in imitation of the verb brechen) are common. Prescriptivists who find the strong forms hideous are often not aware that these are sometimes found, for example, in the works of Martin Luther.[1]


Weak conjugation
Strong conjugation


Further reading[edit]