According to WWWJDIC, 歯止め is used as follows:

歯止めをかける; 歯止めを掛ける (exp,v1) to curb; to halt; to apply brakes; to put an end to

The English translations have a pretty good correspondence with the imagery, especially if you consider 歯車.

Consider the opposite action:

To get things moving; to get it in drive; to weigh anchor; to find purchase; to stop spinning wheels; to find traction; to [actually] get started; to get underway

What would be a Japanese expression that corresponds? 取りかかる, 緒に就く, 切り口, and 糸口 all come to mind, but they're still not quite right. The physical lurch when a vehicle or mechanism starts delivering power is the key to all of these English expressions; I would like to get as close as possible while staying within natural expressions.

  • 1
    Maybe 踏み込む ? (I lack the confidence to make this an answer)
    – virmaior
    Apr 22 '14 at 11:16
  • 1
    Perhaps 計画を軌道に乗せる ; to put a plan into action, or more literally, into orbit.
    – Tim
    Apr 23 '14 at 8:36
  • @Tim Want to add it as an answer? Now that you mention it, I do remember that phrase in use. Apr 29 '14 at 23:46

It would probably be 拍車をかける, which means to spur, encourage, accelerate etc.

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