breast (n.) Look up breast at Dictionary.com
Old English breost "breast, bosom; mind, thought, disposition," from Proto-Germanic *breustam "breast" (source also of Old Saxon briost, Old Frisian briast, Old Norse brjost, Dutch borst, German brust, Gothic brusts), perhaps literally "swelling" and from PIE root *bhreus- "to swell, sprout" (source also of Middle Irish bruasach "having a broad, strong chest," Old Irish bruinne "breast"). The spelling conforms to the Scottish and northern England dialectal pronunciation. Figurative sense of "seat of the emotions" was in Old English.
breastbone (n.) Look up breastbone at Dictionary.com
"sternum," Old English breostban; see breast (n.) + bone (n.).
breastwork (n.) Look up breastwork at Dictionary.com
"fieldwork thrown up breast-high for defense," 1640s, from breast (n.) + work (n.) in "fortification" sense. Old English had breostweall in same sense.
breath (n.) Look up breath at Dictionary.com
Old English bræð "odor, scent, stink, exhalation, vapor" (Old English word for "air exhaled from the lungs" was æðm), from Proto-Germanic *bræthaz "smell, exhalation" (source also of Old High German bradam, German Brodem "breath, steam"), from PIE root *gwhre- "to breathe, smell."
breathalyzer (n.) Look up breathalyzer at Dictionary.com
1960, from breath + (an)alyzer; an earlier name for it was drunkometer (1934).
breathe (v.) Look up breathe at Dictionary.com
c. 1300, not in Old English, but it retains the original Old English vowel of its source word, breath. Related: Breathed; breathing.
breather (n.) Look up breather at Dictionary.com
c. 1600, "a living creature, one who breathes," agent noun from breathe. Meaning "spell of exercise to stimulate breathing" is from 1836; that of "a rest to recover breath" is from 1901.
breathless (adj.) Look up breathless at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "unable to breathe," from breath + -less. Meaning "out of breath, panting" is from mid-15c. Used from 1590s in the sense "dead." Meaning "forgetting to breathe due to excitement, awe, anticipation, etc." is recorded from 1802. Related: Breathlessly; breathlessness.
breathtaking (adj.) Look up breathtaking at Dictionary.com
1867, from breath + present participle of take (v.). Phrase to take (one's) breath away with astonishment or delight is from 1864. Breathtaking (n.) "act of taking breaths or a breath" is from 1620s. Related: Breathtakingly.
breathy (adj.) Look up breathy at Dictionary.com
1520s, "pertaining to breath," from breath + -y (2). Of voices, "full of breath," from 1883. Related: Breathily; breathiness.
breccia (n.) Look up breccia at Dictionary.com
"rock of angular pieces," 1774, from Italian breccia, "marble of angular pieces," from a Germanic source akin to Old High German brecha "a breaking," from Proto-Germanic *brekan, from PIE root *bhreg- "to break."
bred (adj.) Look up bred at Dictionary.com
from past tense and past participle of breed (v.).
breech (n.) Look up breech at Dictionary.com
"back part of a gun or firearm," 1570s, from singular of breeches (q.v.).
breeches (n.) Look up breeches at Dictionary.com
c. 1200, a double plural, from Old English brec "breeches," which already was plural of broc "garment for the legs and trunk," from Proto-Germanic *brokiz (source also of Old Norse brok, Dutch broek, Danish brog, Old High German bruoh, German Bruch, obsolete since 18c. except in Swiss dialect), perhaps from PIE root *bhreg- "to break." The Proto-Germanic word is a parallel form to Celtic *bracca, source (via Gaulish) of Latin braca (aource of French braies), and some propose that the Germanic word group is borrowed from Gallo-Latin, others that the Celtic was from Germanic.

Expanded sense of "part of the body covered by breeches, posterior" led to senses in childbirthing (1670s) and gunnery ("the part of a firearm behind the bore," 1570s). As the popular word for "trousers" in English, displaced in U.S. c. 1840 by pants. The Breeches Bible (Geneva Bible of 1560) so called on account of rendition of Genesis iii.7 (already in Wyclif) "They sewed figge leaues together, and made themselues breeches."
breed (n.) Look up breed at Dictionary.com
"race, lineage, stock" (originally of animals), 1550s, from breed (v.). Of persons, from 1590s. Meaning "kind, species" is from 1580s.
breed (v.) Look up breed at Dictionary.com
Old English bredan "bring young to birth, carry," also "cherish, keep warm," from West Germanic *brodjan (source also of Old High German bruoten, German brüten "to brood, hatch"), from *brod- "fetus, hatchling," from PIE *bhreue- "burn, heat" (see brood (n.)). Original notion of the word was incubation, warming to hatch. Sense of "grow up, be reared" (in a clan, etc.) is late 14c. Related: Bred; breeding.
breeder (n.) Look up breeder at Dictionary.com
1570s, "one who produces or originates," agent noun from breed (v.). Meaning "one who breeds cattle" or some other animal is recorded from 1530s. Of nuclear reactors, from 1948. As a scornful homosexual term for "heterosexual person," attested from 1986.
breeding (n.) Look up breeding at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "hatching, incubation;" also "formation, development, growth," verbal noun from breed (v.). Meaning "good manners" is from 1590s.
breeze (v.) Look up breeze at Dictionary.com
"move briskly," 1904, from breeze (n.). Related: Breezed; breezing.
breeze (n.) Look up breeze at Dictionary.com
1560s, "north or northeast wind," from Old Spanish briza "cold northeast wind;" in West Indies and Spanish Main, the sense shifting to "northeast trade wind," then "fresh wind from the sea." English sense of "gentle or light wind" is from 1620s. An alternative possibility is that the English word is from East Frisian brisen "to blow fresh and strong." The slang for "something easy" is American English, c. 1928.
breezeway (n.) Look up breezeway at Dictionary.com
1904, American English, from breeze (n.) + way (n.).
breezy (adj.) Look up breezy at Dictionary.com
1718, from breeze (n.) + -y (2). Figurative sense "fresh, easygoing, light, airy" is from 1870. Related: Breezily; breeziness.
brekekekex Look up brekekekex at Dictionary.com
c. 1600, from Greek (Aristophanes), echoic of the croaking of frogs.
Bremen Look up Bremen at Dictionary.com
city in Germany, from Old Saxon bremo "edge" (related to English brim (n.)), in reference to its site on a river bank.
Bren Look up Bren at Dictionary.com
type of machine gun used by the British army in World War II, 1937, short for Bren gun, coined from first letters of Brno, Czechoslovakia, and Enfield, near London. The patent was purchased in Brno, and the gun was manufactured in Enfield.
Brenner Pass Look up Brenner Pass at Dictionary.com
historical route over the Alps between Germany and Italy, from Breuni, name of a people who lived near there, perhaps Celtic.
brer Look up brer at Dictionary.com
in Brer Rabbit, etc., 1881, Joel Chandler Harris' representation of U.S. Southern black pronunciation of brother.
Brest Look up Brest at Dictionary.com
city in France, from Celtic, from bre "hill." The city in Belarus is from Slavic berest "elm." Part of Lithuania from 1319, it thus was known, for purposes of distinguishing them, as Brest Litovsk until 1921.
brethren (n.) Look up brethren at Dictionary.com
alternative plural of brother (q.v.); predominant c. 1200-1600s, but surviving now only in religious usage.
Breton (n.) Look up Breton at Dictionary.com
"native or language of Brittany," late 14c., from French form of Briton (q.v.).
breve (n.) Look up breve at Dictionary.com
mid-15c., musical notation indicating two whole notes, from Latin breve (adj.) "short" in space or time (see brief (adj.)). The grammatical curved line placed over a vowel to indicate "shortness" (1540s) is from the same source.
brevet (v.) Look up brevet at Dictionary.com
1839, from French breveter, from brevet (see brevet (n.)). Related: Breveted; breveting.
brevet (n.) Look up brevet at Dictionary.com
mid-14c., from Old French brievet "letter, note, piece of paper; papal indulgence" (13c.), diminutive of bref "letter, note" (see brief (adj.)). Army sense is from 1680s.
breviary (n.) Look up breviary at Dictionary.com
1540s, "brief statement;" sense of "short prayer book used by Catholic priests" is from 1610s, from Latin breviarium "summary," noun use of neuter of adjective breviarius "abridged," from breviare "to shorten, abbreviate," from brevis "short" (see brief (adj.)).
brevity (n.) Look up brevity at Dictionary.com
c. 1500, from Latin brevitatem (nominative brevitas) "shortness" in space or time, from brevis "short" (see brief (adj.)).
brew (n.) Look up brew at Dictionary.com
c. 1500, "a brewed beverage," from brew (v.).
brew (v.) Look up brew at Dictionary.com
Old English breowan "to brew" (class II strong verb, past tense breaw, past participle browen), from Proto-Germanic *breuwan "to brew" (source also of Old Norse brugga, Old Frisian briuwa, Middle Dutch brouwen, Old High German briuwan, German brauen "to brew"), from PIE root *bhreuə- "to bubble, boil, effervesce" (source also of Sanskrit bhurnih "violent, passionate," Greek phrear "well, spring, cistern," Latin fervere "to boil, foam," Thracian Greek brytos "fermented liquor made from barley," Russian bruja "current," Old Irish bruth "heat;" Old English beorma "yeast;" Old High German brato "roast meat"), the original sense thus being "make a drink by boiling." Related: Brewed; brewing.
brewery (n.) Look up brewery at Dictionary.com
1650s (but perhaps from c. 1200 as a surname element), from brew (v.) + -ery. Old English had breawern in this sense (from aern "house;" see barn), and brewhouse was the more common word through 18c.
brewhouse (n.) Look up brewhouse at Dictionary.com
late 14c.; late 13c. as a surname, from brew (v.) + house (n.).
brewster (n.) Look up brewster at Dictionary.com
early 13c. as a surname, probably originally "a female brewer" (even though most of the early surnames on the records are of men), from brew (v.) + -ster. Compare Old French braceresse "female brewer," Middle English name Clarice le Breweres on the 1312 Colchester Borough Court Rolls.
briar (n.) Look up briar at Dictionary.com
see brier (n.1).
Briareus Look up Briareus at Dictionary.com
hundred-handed giant in Greek mythology, from Greek briaros "strong, stout."
bribe (v.) Look up bribe at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "pilfer, steal," also "practice extortion," from Old French briber "go begging," from bribe (see bribe (n.)). Related: Bribed; bribing.
bribe (n.) Look up bribe at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "thing stolen," from Old French bribe "bit, piece, hunk; morsel of bread given to beggars" (14c., compare Old French bribeor "vagrant, beggar"), from briber, brimber "to beg," a general Romanic word (Gamillscheg marks it as Rotwelsch, i.e. "thieves' jargon"), of uncertain origin; old sources suggest Celtic (compare Breton breva "to break"). Shift of meaning to "gift given to influence corruptly" is by mid-15c.
bribery (n.) Look up bribery at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "theft, robbery, swindling, pilfering;" see bribe (n.) + -ery. Specifically of magistrates taking money for corrupted services from mid-16c.; sense of "offering of a bribe" is from 1560s.
bric-a-brac (n.) Look up bric-a-brac at Dictionary.com
1840, from obsolete French à bric et à brac (16c.) "at random, any old way," a nonsense phrase.
brick (v.) Look up brick at Dictionary.com
"to wall up with bricks," 1640s, from brick (n.). Related: Bricked; bricking.
brick (n.) Look up brick at Dictionary.com
early 15c., from Old French briche "brick," probably from a Germanic source akin to Middle Dutch bricke "a tile," literally "a broken piece," from the verbal root of break (v.). Meaning "a good, honest fellow" is from 1840, probably on notion of squareness (as in fair and square) though most extended senses of brick (and square) applied to persons in English are not meant to be complimentary. Brick wall in the figurative sense of "impenetrable barrier" is from 1886.
brickbat (n.) Look up brickbat at Dictionary.com
mid-16c., piece of brick (half or less) used as a missile, from brick (n.) + bat (n.1) in the sense "a lump, piece." Figurative use, of comments, insults, etc., is from 1640s.
bridal (adj.) Look up bridal at Dictionary.com
mid-15c., transferred use of noun bridal "wedding feast," Old English brydealo "marriage feast," from bryd ealu, literally "bride ale" (see bride + ale); second element later confused with suffix -al (1), especially after c. 1600.