braggart (n.) Look up braggart at
"a boaster," 1570s, formerly also braggard, from French bragard (16c.), with pejorative ending (see -ard) + Middle French braguer "to flaunt, brag," perhaps originally "to show off clothes, especially breeches," from brague "breeches" (see bracket (n.)). There may be an element of codpiece-flaunting in all this.

Also as an adjective, "vain, boastful" (1610s). The word in English has been at least influenced by brag (v.), even if, as some claim, it is unrelated to it. Bragger "arrogant or boastful person," agent noun from brag (v.), is attested in English from late 14c. and has become practically a variant of this word.
Brahma Look up Brahma at
1785, from Sanskrit Brahma, nominative of Brahman, chief god of the trinity Brahma-Vishnu-Siva in post-Vedic Hindu religion (see brahmin).
Brahman Look up Brahman at
see Brahmin.
Brahmaputra Look up Brahmaputra at
river in Asia, Hindi, literally "son of Brahma."
Brahmin (n.) Look up Brahmin at
also Brahman, "member of the highest priestly Hindu caste," late 14c., Bragman, from Sanskrit brahmana-s, from brahman- "prayer," also "the universal soul, the Absolute," which is of uncertain origin. Related to Brahma. Figurative meaning "member of Boston's upper class" is from 1823.
braid (v.) Look up braid at
"to plait, knit, weave, twist together," c. 1200, breidan, from Old English bregdan "to move quickly, pull, shake, swing, throw (in wrestling), draw (a sword); bend, weave, knit, join together; change color, vary; scheme, feign, pretend" (class III strong verb, past tense brægd, past participle brogden), from Proto-Germanic *bregthan "make sudden jerky movements from side to side" (compare Old Norse bregða "to brandish, turn about, braid;" Old Saxon bregdan "to weave;" Dutch breien "to knit;" Old High German brettan "to draw, weave, braid"), from PIE root *bherek- "to gleam, flash" (compare Sanskrit bhrasate "flames, blazes, shines"). In English the verb survives only in the narrow definition of "plait hair." Related: Braided; braiding.
braid (n.) Look up braid at
c. 1200, "a deceit, stratagem, trick;" c. 1300, "sudden or quick movement," in part from stem found in Old English gebrægd "craft, fraud," gebregd "commotion," Old Norse bragð "deed, trick," and in part from or influenced by related braid (v.). Meaning "anything plaited or entwined" (especially hair) is from 1520s.
braided (adj.) Look up braided at
late 15c., past-participle adjective from braid (v.). Of streams from 1901.
braidism (n.) Look up braidism at
"hypnotism," 1849, from the name of hypnosis pioneer Dr. James Braid (see hypnosis).
braids (n.) Look up braids at
1520s; see braid (n.).
brail (n.) Look up brail at
small rope used on ships, mid-15c., from Old French brail, earlier braiel "belt, leather thong" (in falconry), from Latin bracale "waistbelt," from bracæ "breeches" (plural, see breeches).
Braille (n., adj.) Look up Braille at
"system of embossed printing used as an alphabet for the blind," 1853, from Louis Braille (1809-1852), French musician and teacher, blind from age 3, who devised it c. 1830.
brain (v.) Look up brain at
"to dash the brains out," late 14c., from brain (n.). Related: Brained; braining.
brain (n.) Look up brain at
"soft, grayish mass filling the cranial cavity of a vertebrate," in the broadest sense, "organ of consciousness and the mind," Old English brægen "brain," from Proto-Germanic *bragnam (source also of Middle Low German bregen, Old Frisian and Dutch brein), of uncertain origin, perhaps from PIE root *mregh-m(n)o- "skull, brain" (source also of Greek brekhmos "front part of the skull, top of the head"). But Liberman writes that brain "has no established cognates outside West Germanic ..." and is not connected to the Greek word. More probably, he writes, its etymon is PIE *bhragno "something broken."

The custom of using the plural to refer to the substance (literal or figurative), as opposed to the organ, dates from 16c. Figurative sense of "intellectual power" is from late 14c.; meaning "a clever person" is first recorded 1914. To have something on the brain "be extremely eager for or interested in" is from 1862. brain-fart "sudden loss of memory or train of thought; sudden inability to think logically" is by 1991 (brain-squirt is from 1650s as "feeble or abortive attempt at reasoning"). An Old English word for "head" was brægnloca, which might be translated as "brain locker." In Middle English, brainsick (Old English brægenseoc) meant "mad, addled."
brain trust (n.) Look up brain trust at
"group of experts assembled to give advice on some matter," occasionally used since early 1900s, it became current in 1933, in reference to the intellectuals gathered by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt as advisors; from brain (n.) + trust (n.).
brain-child (n.) Look up brain-child at
"idea, creation of one's own mind," 1850, from brain (n.) + child. Earlier was the alliterative brain-brat (1630).
brain-coral (n.) Look up brain-coral at
1709, from brain (n.) + coral; so called for its appearance.
brain-dead (adj.) Look up brain-dead at
"suffering complete loss of brain functioning," 1971 (brain death is from 1968), from brain (n.) + dead. Popularized in U.S. 1975 by journalistic coverage of the Karen Anne Quinlan case.
brain-drain (n.) Look up brain-drain at
"emigration of experts and trained people to richer countries from poorer ones," 1963, from brain (n.) + drain (n.).
brain-stem (n.) Look up brain-stem at
1875, from German; see brain (n.) + stem (n.).
brain-teaser (n.) Look up brain-teaser at
"difficult puzzle or problem," 1893, from brain (n.) + agent noun from tease (v.).
brain-wave (n.) Look up brain-wave at
"apparent telepathic vibration transferring a thought from one person to another without any other medium, 1869, from brain (n.) + wave (n.).
brainiac (n.) Look up brainiac at
"very smart person," 1982, U.S. slang, from brain (n.) + ending from ENIAC, etc. Brainiac also was the name of a comic book villain in the Superman series and a do-it-yourself computer building kit, both from the late 1950s, and the word may bear traces of either or both of these.
brainless (adj.) Look up brainless at
late 15c., "witless, stupid," from brain (n.) + -less. Related: Brainlessly; brainlessness.
brainstorm (n.) Look up brainstorm at
also brain-storm, "brilliant idea, mental excitement, fit of mental application," 1849, from brain (n.) + figurative use of storm (n.). Also sometimes "mental disturbance" (1907). Verbal meaning "make a concerted attack on a problem, involving spontaneous ideas," is by 1947. Related: Brainstormed; brainstorming.
brainwash (v.) Look up brainwash at
1955 (past participle adjective brainwashed attested from 1953); see brainwashing.
brainwashing (n.) Look up brainwashing at
"attempt to alter or control the thoughts and beliefs of another person against his will by psychological techniques," 1950, a literal translation of Chinese xi nao. A term from the Korean War.
brainy (adj.) Look up brainy at
1832, "resembling brain matter;" 1845, "intelligent, clever," from brain (n.) + -y (2). Latin equivalent cerebrosus meant "passionate, enraged, hot-headed," leading Tucker to remark that " 'Brainy' is not a natural expression for 'frantic.' "
braise (v.) Look up braise at
"to stew in a closed pan with heat from above and below," 1797, braze, from French braiser "to stew, cook over live coals" (17c.), from braise "live coals," from Old French brese "embers" (12c.), ultimately (along with Italian bragia, Spanish brasa) from Proto-Germanic *brasa, from PIE root *bhreu- "to boil, bubble, effervesce, burn." Related: Braised; braising.
brake (n.2) Look up brake at
kind of fern, early 14c.; see bracken.
brake (v.) Look up brake at
"to apply a brake to a wheel," 1868, from brake (n.1). Earlier, "to beat flax" (late 14c.). Related: Braked; braking.
brake (n.1) Look up brake at
mid-15c., "instrument for crushing or pounding," from Middle Dutch braeke "flax brake," from breken "to break" (see break (v.)). The word was applied to many crushing implements, especially the tool for breaking up the woody part of flax to loosen the fibers. It also was applied to the ring through the nose of a draught ox. It was influenced in sense by Old French brac, a form of bras "an arm," thus the sense "a lever or handle," which was being used in English from late 14c., and "a bridle or curb" (early 15c.).

One or the other sense or a convergence of all of them yielded the main modern meaning "mechanical device for arresting the motion of a wheel," which is attested by 1772.
brake (n.3) Look up brake at
"thicket; place overgrown with bushes, brambles, or brushwood," mid-15c., originally "fern-brake, thicket of fern," perhaps from or related to Middle Low German brake "rough or broken ground," from the root of break (v.). Or, more likely, from Middle English brake "fern" (c. 1300), from Old Norse (compare Swedish bräken, Danish bregne), and related to bracken. In the U.S., applied to cane thickets.
brakeman (n.) Look up brakeman at
"brake operator on a railroad train," 1833, from brake (n.1) + man (n.).
bramble (n.) Look up bramble at
Old English bræmbel "rough, prickly shrub" (especially the blackberry bush), with euphonic -b- (which then caused the vowel to shorten), from earlier bræmel, from Proto-Germanic *bræmaz (see broom). Related: Brambleberry "blackberry" (late Old English).
bran (n.) Look up bran at
"the husk of wheat, barley, etc., separated from the flour after grinding," c. 1300, from Old French bren "bran, scurf, scales, feces" (12c., Modern French bran), perhaps from Celtic and connected with Gaulish *brenno- "manure" (but OED is against this) or with burn (v.). The word also was used 16c. in English for "dandruff flakes."
branch (v.) Look up branch at
"send out shoots or new limbs," late 14c., also, of blood vessels, family trees, etc., "to be forked," from branch (n.). Meaning "to spread out from a center, radiate" is from c. 1400. Related: Branched; branching.
branch (n.) Look up branch at
c. 1300, braunch, "division or subdivision of the stem of a tree or bush" (also used of things resembling a branch in its relation to a trunk, such as geographic features, lines of family descent), from Old French branche "branch, bough, twig; branch of a family" (12c.), from Late Latin branca "footprint," later "a claw, paw," which is of unknown origin, probably from Gaulish. The connecting notion would be the shape (compare pedigree). Replaced native bough. Meaning "local office of a business" is first recorded 1817, from earlier sense of "component part of a system" (1690s).
branchial (adj.) Look up branchial at
"of or pertaining to gills," 1774, from Modern Latin branchialis, from Latin branchiae "gills," from Greek brankhia "gills," plural of brankhion "fin." Related: Branchiate.
branchio- Look up branchio- at
word-forming element used in scientific compounds since mid-18c., meaning "of or pertaining to "gills," from Latinized form of Greek brankhia "gills," plural of brankhion "fin."
brand (v.) Look up brand at
c. 1400, "to impress or burn a mark upon with a hot iron, cauterize; stigmatize," originally of criminal marks or cauterized wounds, from brand (n.). Figuratively, often in a bad sense, "fix a character of infamy upon," mid-15c., with the criminal marking in mind. As a means of marking ownership or quality of property, 1580s. Related: Branded; branding.
brand (n.) Look up brand at
Old English brand, brond "fire, flame, destruction by fire; 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 "iron instrument for branding" is from 1828. Meaning "mark made by a hot iron" (1550s), especially on a cask, etc., to identify the maker or quality of its contents, broadened by 1827 to marks made in other ways, then to "a particular make of goods" (1854). Brand-name is from 1889; brand-loyalty from 1961. Old French brand, brant, Italian brando "sword" are from Germanic (compare brandish).
brand-new (adj.) Look up brand-new at
"quite new," 1560s, from brand (n.) + new. The notion is "new as a glowing metal fresh from the forge" (Shakespeare has fire-new). Popularly bran-new.
Brandenburg Look up Brandenburg at
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. In reference to a kind of ornamental button with loops, worn on the front of men's coats, by 1753, probably from Prussian military uniforms; later extended to ornamental buttons on women's dress (1873).
brandish (v.) Look up brandish at
"move or raise," as a weapon, 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," which is from Frankish or some other Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *brandaz "a burning," from PIE root *gwher- "to heat, warm." Spanish blandir, Italian brandire are likewise from Germanic. Related: Brandished; brandishing.
brandy (n.) Look up brandy at
"spirits distilled from other liquors" (especially wine), 1650s, abbreviation of brandy-wine (1620s) from Dutch brandewijn "burnt wine," earlier brand-wijn, 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 the 1777 Revolutionary War battle, supposedly was so named 17c. by the Dutch explorers for the color of its waters.
In familiar use abbreviated as brandy as early as 1657; but the fuller form was retained in official use (customs tariffs, acts of parliament, etc.) down to the end of 17th c., being latterly, as the spelling shows, regarded as a compound of brandy + wine. [OED]
branks (n.) Look up branks at
"scolding-bridle," an iron-frame headpiece with a flat iron piece to be inserted in the mouth to still the tongue, formerly used in Scotland and later in parts of England "for correcting scolding women" [Century Dictionary], 1590s, of unknown origin. Perhaps from a North Sea Germanic language. Earlier as a verb, "to bridle, restrain" (1570s).
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." [John Trotter Brockett, "A Glossary of North Country Words," 1829]
Branwen Look up Branwen at
fem. proper name, from Welsh bran "raven" + (g)wen "fair" (literally "visible," from nasalized form of PIE root *weid- "to see"). Daughter of Llyr, she was a legendary heroine of Wales.
brash (adj.) Look up brash at
"impetuous, rash, hasty in temper," 1824, of obscure origin, perhaps 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 perhaps akin to German brechen "to vomit." Not considered to be connected with rash (adj.) though they mean the same. Related: Rashly; rashness.
brasil Look up brasil at
see Brazil.