brand (n.) Look up brand at Dictionary.com
Old English brand, brond "fire, flame; firebrand, piece of burning wood, torch," and (poetic) "sword," from Proto-Germanic *brandaz "a burning" (source also of Old Norse brandr, Old High German brant, Old Frisian brond "firebrand, blade of a sword," German brand "fire"), from PIE root *gwher- "to heat, warm." Meaning "identifying mark made by a hot iron" (1550s) broadened by 1827 to "a particular make of goods." Brand name is from 1922.
brand-new (adj.) Look up brand-new at Dictionary.com
1570s, from brand (n.) + new. Originally it must have meant "fresh from the fire" (Shakespeare has fire-new).
Brandenburg Look up Brandenburg at Dictionary.com
region in northeastern Germany, traditionally said to be ultimately from Slavic, but perhaps German and meaning literally "burned fortress," or else from a Celtic proper name.
brandish (v.) Look up brandish at Dictionary.com
mid-14c., from Old French brandiss-, present participle stem of brandir "to flourish (a sword)" (12c.), from brant "blade of a sword, prow of a ship," of Frankish origin, from Proto-Germanic *brandaz "a burning," from PIE root *gwher- "to heat, warm." Related: Brandished; brandishing.
brandy (n.) Look up brandy at Dictionary.com
1650s, abbreviation of brandywine (1620s) from Dutch brandewijn "burnt wine," so called because it is distilled (compare German cognate Branntwein and Czech palenka "brandy," from paliti "to burn"). The Brandywine Creek in Pennsylvania, site of a Revolutionary War battle, supposedly so named by the Dutch for the color of its waters.
branks (n.) Look up branks at Dictionary.com
1590s, of unknown origin, perhaps from a North Sea Germanic language. An instrument of punishment for women, originally Scottish, it was a kind of iron cage for the head with a metal bit attached to still the tongue.
Paide for caring a woman throughe the towne for skoulding, with branks, 4d. ["Municipal Accounts of Newcastle," 1595]
"Ungallant, and unmercifully severe, as this species of torture seems to be, Dr. Plot, in his History of Staffordshire, much prefers it to the cucking stool, which, he says, 'not only endangers the health of the party, but also gives the tongue liberty 'twixt every dip.' " [Brockett, "A Glossary of North Country Words,"1829].
Branwen Look up Branwen at Dictionary.com
fem. proper name, from Welsh bran "raven" + (g)wen "fair." Daughter of Llyr, she was one of the legendary heroines of Wales.
brash (adj.) Look up brash at Dictionary.com
1824, of obscure origin, originally American English; perhaps akin to 16c. Scottish brash "attack, assault," or French breche "fragments," especially of ice, which is from a Germanic source (compare Old High German brehha "breach," from brehhan "to break," from PIE root *bhreg- "to break"), or to German brechen "to vomit."
brass (n.) Look up brass at Dictionary.com
Old English bræs "brass, bronze," originally in reference to an alloy of copper and tin (now bronze), later and in modern use an alloy of two parts copper, one part zinc. A mystery word, with no known cognates beyond English. Perhaps akin to French brasser "to brew," because it is an alloy. It also has been compared to Old Swedish brasa "fire," but no sure connection can be made. Yet another theory connects it with Latin ferrum "iron," itself of obscure origin.

As brass was unknown in antiquity, use of the word in Bible translations, etc., likely means "bronze." The Romans were the first to deliberately make it. Words for "brass" in other languages (such as German Messing, Old English mæsling, French laiton, Italian ottone) also tend to be difficult to explain.

The meaning "effrontery, impudence" is from 1620s. Slang sense of "high officials" is first recorded 1899. The brass tacks that you get down to (1897) probably are the ones used to measure cloth on the counter of a dry goods store, suggesting precision. Slang brass balls "toughness, courage" (emphatically combining two metaphors for the same thing) attested by 1960s.
brasserie (n.) Look up brasserie at Dictionary.com
1864, "brewery," from French brasserie, from Middle French brasser "to brew," from Latin brace "grain used to prepare malt," said by Pliny to be a Celtic word (compare Welsh brag "malt").
brassiere (n.) Look up brassiere at Dictionary.com
18c., "woman's underbodice," from French brassière "child's chemise; shoulder strap" (17c.), from Old French braciere "arm guard" (14c.), from bras "an arm," from Latin bracchium "an arm," from Greek brakhion "an arm" (see brachio-). Modern use is a euphemistic borrowing employed in the garment trade by 1902.
brassy (adj.) Look up brassy at Dictionary.com
"impudent," 1570s, from brass + -y (2). Compare brazen. Sense of "debased and pretentious" is from 1580s, from brass as contrasted with gold; sense of "strident and artificial" is from 1865. Related: Brassily; brassiness.
brat (n.) Look up brat at Dictionary.com
c. 1500, slang, "beggar's child," originally northern, Midlands and western England dialect word for "makeshift or ragged garment;" probably the same word as Old English bratt "cloak," which is from a Celtic source (compare Old Irish bratt "cloak, cloth"). The modern meaning is perhaps from notion of "child's apron." Hollywood Brat Pack (modeled on 1950s Rat Pack) is from 1985.
Bratislava Look up Bratislava at Dictionary.com
capital of Slovakia, a Slavic settlement named for its founder or chief; the name is the same element in the first half of the German name for the city, Pressburg (9c.).
bratty (adj.) Look up bratty at Dictionary.com
"spoiled and juvenile," 1929, from brat + -y (2).
bratwurst (n.) Look up bratwurst at Dictionary.com
1911, from German Bratwurst, from wurst + Brät "lean meat, finely chipped calf or swine meat," from Old High German brato (12c.), from Proto-Germanic *bred-on- "roast flesh" (source also of Old English bræde "meat"), from PIE root *bhreu- "to boil, bubble, effervesce, burn." German folk etymology derives it from braten "to roast, bake, broil, grill;" more likely both are from the same ancient source.
Braun Look up Braun at Dictionary.com
German manufacturing company, named for founder Max Braun, mechanical engineer in Frankfurt am Main (1921).
bravado (n.) Look up bravado at Dictionary.com
1580s, from French bravade "bragging, boasting," from Italian bravata "bragging, boasting" (16c.), from bravare "brag, boast, be defiant," from bravo (see brave (adj.)). The English word was influenced in form by Spanish words ending in -ado.
brave (v.) Look up brave at Dictionary.com
"to face with bravery," 1776, from French braver, from brave (see brave (adj.)). Related: Braved; braving.
brave (n.) Look up brave at Dictionary.com
"North American Indian warrior," c. 1600, from brave (adj.), and compare bravo.
brave (adj.) Look up brave at Dictionary.com
late 15c., from Middle French brave, "splendid, valiant," from Italian bravo "brave, bold," originally "wild, savage," possibly from Medieval Latin bravus "cutthroat, villain," from Latin pravus "crooked, depraved;" a less likely etymology being from Latin barbarus (see barbarous). A Celtic origin (Irish breagh, Cornish bray) also has been suggested.

Old English words for this, some with overtones of "rashness," included modig (now "moody"), beald ("bold"), cene ("keen"), dyrstig ("daring"). Brave new world is from the title of Aldous Huxley's 1932 satirical utopian novel; he lifted the phrase from Shakespeare ("Tempest" v.i.183).
bravery (n.) Look up bravery at Dictionary.com
1540s, "daring, defiance, boasting," from French braverie, from braver "to brave" (see brave) or else from cognate Italian braveria, from bravare.
No Man is an Atheist, however he pretend it and serve the Company with his Braveries. [Donne, 1631]
As a good quality, attested from 1580s. Meaning "fine clothes" is from 1560s and holds the older sense.
bravo Look up bravo at Dictionary.com
as an exclamation, "well done!," 1761, from Italian bravo, literally "brave" (see brave (adj.)). Earlier it was used as a noun meaning "desperado, hired killer" (1590s). Superlative form is bravissimo.
It is held by some philologists that as "Bravo!" is an exclamation its form should not change, but remain bravo under all circumstances. Nevertheless "bravo" is usually applied to a male, "brava" to a female artist, and "bravi" to two or more. ["Elson's Music Dictionary," 1905]
bravura (n.) Look up bravura at Dictionary.com
1788, "piece of music requiring great skill," from Italian bravura "bravery, spirit" (see brave (adj.)). Sense of "display of brilliancy, dash" is from 1813.
braw Look up braw at Dictionary.com
Scottish formation and pronunciation of brave.
brawl (n.) Look up brawl at Dictionary.com
mid-15c., from brawl (v.).
brawl (v.) Look up brawl at Dictionary.com
late 14c., braulen "to cry out, scold, quarrel," probably related to Dutch brallen "to boast," or from French brailler "to shout noisily," frequentative of braire "to bray" (see bray (v.)). Meaning "quarrel, wrangle, squabble" is from early 15c. Related: Brawled; brawling.
brawn (n.) Look up brawn at Dictionary.com
late 13c., from Old French braon "fleshy or muscular part, buttock," from Frankish *brado "ham, roast" or some other Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *bred-on- (source also of Old High German brato "tender meat," German Braten "roast," Old Norse brað "raw meat," Old English bræd "flesh"), from PIE *bhre- "burn, heat," from root *bhreu- "to boil, bubble, effervesce, burn." The original sense is "piece of meat suitable for roasting." "The specific sense 'boar's flesh' is exclusively of English development, and characteristic of English habits" [OED].
brawny (adj.) Look up brawny at Dictionary.com
1590s, "characterized by muscle," from brawn + -y (2).
bray (v.) Look up bray at Dictionary.com
c. 1300, from Old French braire "to cry," from Gallo-Roman *bragire "to cry out," perhaps from a Celtic source (compare Gaelic braigh "to shriek, crackle"), probably imitative. Related: Brayed; braying.
bray (n.) Look up bray at Dictionary.com
c. 1300, from bray (v.).
braze (v.2) Look up braze at Dictionary.com
"to make of or cover in brass," Old English brasian "to do work in brass, make of brass," from bræs (see brass). Compare glaze from glass.
braze (v.1) Look up braze at Dictionary.com
"to expose to the action of fire," 1580s, perhaps from French braser "to solder," in Old French, "to burn," related to brese "embers," ultimately from West Germanic *brasa, from PIE root *bhreu- "to boil, bubble, effervesce, burn." Related: Brazed; brazing.
brazen (adj.) Look up brazen at Dictionary.com
Old English bræsen "of brass," from bræs "brass" (see brass) + -en (2). The figurative sense of "hardened in effrontery" is 1570s (in brazen-face), perhaps suggesting a face unable to show shame (see brass). To brazen it out "face impudently" is from 1550s.
brazier (n.) Look up brazier at Dictionary.com
"metal container to hold burning coals," 1680s, from French brasier "pan of hot coals," from Old French brasier, from brese "embers," ultimately from West Germanic *brasa, from PIE root *bhreu- "to boil, bubble, effervesce, burn."
Brazil Look up Brazil at Dictionary.com
1550s, from Spanish/Portuguese terra de brasil "red-dye-wood land," from Spanish brasil or Italian brasile, probably connected to French braize (from Germanic, from PIE root *bhreu- "to boil, bubble, effervesce, burn") for resemblance of color to a glowing ember (but Old Italian form verzino suggests a possible connection with Arabic wars "saffron").

Originally the name of a type of wood from an East Indian tree, used in making dye; the name later was transferred to a similar South American species. Brazil in reference to the wood is attested in English from late 14c. Complicating matters is Hy Brasil, a name applied by 1436 to one of the larger Azores Islands, later transferred to a legendary island or rock off the west coast of Ireland (sighted in 1791 at lat. 51° 10', long. 15° 58').
Brazzaville Look up Brazzaville at Dictionary.com
capital of Republic of Congo, named for French explorer Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza (1852-1905), who founded it in 1883. An Italian count, his title is from the Adriatic island of Brazza, now Brač in Croatia.
brb Look up brb at Dictionary.com
by 1996, internet chat acronym for be right back.
breach (v.) Look up breach at Dictionary.com
1570s, from breach (n.). Related: Breached; breaching.
breach (n.) Look up breach at Dictionary.com
Old English bryce "breach, fracture, a breaking," from brecan (see break (v.)), influenced by Old French breche "breach, opening, gap," from Frankish; both from Proto-Germanic *brecho, *bræko "broken," from PIE root *bhreg- "to break." Figurative sense of "a breaking of rules, etc." was in Old English Breach of contract is at least from 1660s.
bread (v.) Look up bread at Dictionary.com
"to dress with bread crumbs," 1727, from bread (n.). Related: Breaded; breading.
bread (n.) Look up bread at Dictionary.com
Old English bread "bit, crumb, morsel; bread," cognate with Old Norse brauð, Danish brød, Old Frisian brad, Middle Dutch brot, Dutch brood, German Brot. According to one theory [Watkins, etc.] from Proto-Germanic *brautham, from PIE root *bhreu- "to boil, bubble, effervesce, burn," in reference to the leavening.

But OED argues at some length for the basic sense being not "cooked food" but "piece of food," and the Old English word deriving from a Proto-Germanic *braudsmon- "fragments, bits" (cognate with Old High German brosma "crumb," Old English breotan "to break in pieces") and being related to the root of break (v.). It cites Slovenian kruh "bread," literally "a piece."

Either way, by c. 1200 it had replaced the usual Old English word for "bread," which was hlaf (see loaf (n.)). Slang meaning "money" dates from 1940s, but compare breadwinner. Bread-and-butter in the figurative sense of "basic needs" is from 1732. Bread and circuses (1914) is from Latin, in reference to food and entertainment provided by governments to keep the populace happy. "Duas tantum res anxius optat, Panem et circenses" [Juvenal, Sat. x.80].
bread-basket (n.) Look up bread-basket at Dictionary.com
1550s, "basket for holding bread," from bread (n.) + basket. Slang meaning "stomach" is attested from 1753, especially in pugilism.
breadth (n.) Look up breadth at Dictionary.com
1520s, alteration of brede "breadth," from Old English brædu "breadth, width, extent," from bræd; probably by analogy of long/length.
breadwinner (n.) Look up breadwinner at Dictionary.com
also bread-winner, "one who supplies a living for others, especially a family," 1821, from the noun bread (probably in a literal sense) + winner, from win (v.) in its sense of "struggle for, work at." Attested slightly earlier (1818) in sense "skill or art by which one makes a living." Not too far removed from the image at the root of lord (n.).
break (n.) Look up break at Dictionary.com
c. 1300, "act of breaking," from break (v.). Sense of "short interval between spells of work" (originally between lessons at school) is from 1861. Meaning "stroke of luck" is attested by 1911, probably an image from billiards (where the break that starts the game is attested from 1865). Meaning "stroke of mercy" is from 1914. Musical sense, "improvised passage, solo" is attested from 1920s in jazz.
break (v.) Look up break at Dictionary.com
Old English brecan "to break, shatter, burst; injure, violate, destroy, curtail; break into, rush into; burst forth, spring out; subdue, tame" (class IV strong verb; past tense bræc, past participle brocen), from Proto-Germanic *brekan (source also of Old Frisian breka, Dutch breken, Old High German brehhan, German brechen, Gothic brikan), from PIE root *bhreg- "to break." Most modern senses were in Old English. In reference to the heart from early 13c. Meaning "to disclose" is from early 13c.

Break bread "share food" (with) is from late 14c. Break the ice is c. 1600, in reference to the "coldness" of encounters of strangers. Break wind first attested 1550s. To break (something) out (1890s) probably is an image from dock work, of freeing cargo before unloading it. The ironic theatrical good luck formula break a leg (by 1948, said to be from at least 1920s) has parallels in German Hals- und Beinbruch "break your neck and leg," and Italian in bocca al lupo. Evidence of a highly superstitious craft (see Macbeth). According to Farmer & Henley, in 17c. the expression was used euphemistically, of a woman, "to have a bastard."
break dancing (n.) Look up break dancing at Dictionary.com
1982, but the style itself evolved late 1970s in South Bronx. The reference is to the rhythmic break in a pop-dance song (see break (n.)), which the DJs isolated and the dancers performed to. Breakdown "a riotous dance, in the style of the negroes" is recorded from 1864.
breakable (adj.) Look up breakable at Dictionary.com
1560s, from break (v.) + -able. As a noun, breakables is attested from 1820.
breakage (n.) Look up breakage at Dictionary.com
1813, "action of breaking," from break (v.) + -age. Meaning "loss or damage done by breaking" is from 1848.