brewery (n.) Look up brewery at
1650s (but perhaps from c. 1200 as a surname element); see 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
also brew-house, "brewery, building in which beer is brewed," late 14c. (late 13c. as a surname), from brew (v.) + house (n.).
brewster (n.) Look up brewster at
"one who makes and sells ale, a brewer," early 14c. (early 13c. as a surname), probably originally "a female brewer" (though most of the early surnames on the records are of men), from brew (v.) + -ster. Compare Old French braceresse, Medieval Latin brasiatrix "female brewer," and Clarice le Breweres on the 1312 Colchester Borough Court Rolls.
briar (n.) Look up briar at
see brier (n.1).
Briareus Look up Briareus at
hundred-handed giant in Greek mythology, traditionally from Greek briaros "strong, stout," but Beekes says probably a pre-Greek name. Related: Briarean.
bribe (v.) Look up bribe at
late 14c., "to pilfer, steal, take dishonestly," also "practice extortion," from Old French briber "go begging," from bribe "a gift" (see bribe (n.)). Meaning "gain or corrupt by a bribe" is from 1520s. Related: Bribed; bribing.
bribe (n.) Look up bribe at
late 14c., "thing stolen," from Old French bribe "a gift," properly "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 (compare Spanish briba "vagrancy," Italian birbone "a vagrant"); Gamillscheg marks the French word as Rotwelsch, i.e. thieves' jargon. The whole group is of uncertain origin; old sources suggest it could be Celtic (compare Breton breva, Welsh briwo "to break") and akin to break (v.). Shift of meaning to "gift given to influence corruptly" is by mid-15c.
bribery (n.) Look up bribery at
late 14c., "theft, robbery, swindling, pilfering," from Old French briberie (see bribe (n.) + -ery). Specifically "act of magistrates taking money for corrupted services" is from 1540s; sense of "offering of a bribe" is from 1560s.
bric-a-brac (n.) Look up bric-a-brac at
deprecative term for objects having a certain interest from being old, pretty, or curious, but no claim to art, 1840, from obsolete French à bric et à brac (16c.) "at random, any old way," a nonsense phrase.
brick (v.) Look up brick at
"to wall up with bricks," 1640s, from brick (n.). Related: Bricked; bricking.
brick (n.) Look up brick at
"rectangular block of artificial stone (usually clay burned in a kiln) used as a building material," 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.).

Of a brick-shaped loaf by 1735. Meaning "a good, honest fellow" is from 1840, probably on notion of squareness (as in fair and square), though in English brick and square when applied to persons generally are not meant as compliments. Brick wall in the figurative sense of "impenetrable barrier" is from 1886. Brick-and-mortar (adj.) as figurative of "physically real" is from 1865. To do something like a ton of bricks "vigorously" is from 1929 (earlier thousand of bricks, 1836), probably from the notion of how hard such a weight of them falls or hits.
brickbat (n.) Look up brickbat at
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.
brickette (n.) Look up brickette at
"small brick" of anything, 1924; see briquette.
bricklayer (n.) Look up bricklayer at
also brick-layer, "one who builds with bricks," late 15c., from brick (n.) + layer in the original sense. Related: Bricklaying.
brickwork (n.) Look up brickwork at
"building work done in brick," 1570s, from brick (n.) + work (n.).
brickyard (n.) Look up brickyard at
also brick-yard, "open place where bricks are made," 1807, from brick (n.) + yard (n.1).
bridal (adj.) Look up bridal at
"belonging to a bride or a wedding," c. 1200, transferred use of noun bridal "wedding feast," Old English brydealo "marriage feast," from bryd ealu, literally "bride ale" (see bride + ale); the second element later was confused with suffix -al (1), especially after c. 1600. Bridal-suite is from 1857.
bride (n.) Look up bride at
"woman newly married or about to be," Old English bryd "bride, betrothed or newly married woman," from Proto-Germanic *bruthiz "woman being married" (source also of Old Frisian breid, Dutch bruid, Old High German brut, German Braut "bride"), a word of uncertain origin.

Gothic cognate bruþs, however, meant "daughter-in-law," and the form of the word borrowed from Old High German into Medieval Latin (bruta) and Old French (bruy) had only this sense. In ancient Indo-European custom, the married woman went to live with her husband's family, so the only "newly wed female" in such a household would have been the daughter-in-law. On the same notion, some trace the word itself to the PIE verbal root *bhreu-, which forms words for cooking and brewing, as this likely was the daughter-in-law's job.
bridegroom (n.) Look up bridegroom at
"man newly married or about to be," Old English brydguma "suitor," from bryd "bride" (see bride) + guma "man," from Proto-Germanic *gumon- (source also of Old Norse gumi, Old High German gomo), literally "earthling, earthly being," as opposed to the gods, from suffixed form of PIE root *dhghem- "earth." Ending altered 16c. by folk etymology after groom (n.) "groom, boy, lad" (q.v.).

A common Germanic compound (compare Old Saxon brudigumo, Old Norse bruðgumi, Old High German brutigomo, German Bräutigam), except in Gothic, which used bruþsfaþs, literally "bride's lord."
bridesmaid (n.) Look up bridesmaid at
"young girl or unmarried woman who attends on a bride at her wedding," 1550s, bridemaid, from bride + maid. The -s- is unetymological but began to appear by 1794 and the form with it predominated by the end of the 19c. Brideman is attested from 1610s as "bridegroom;" bridesman is from 1808 as "male attendant on a bridegroom at his wedding."
bridewell (n.) Look up bridewell at
"prison," 1550s, from Bridewell, house of correction in London, originally a royal lodging (given by Edward VI for a hospital, later converted to a prison) near Bride's Well, short for St. Bridget's Well.
bridge (n.2) Look up bridge at
card game, 1886 (perhaps as early as 1843), an alteration of biritch, but the source and meaning of that are obscure. "Probably of Levantine origin, since some form of the game appears to have been long known in the Near East" [OED]. One guess is that it represents Turkish *bir-üç "one-three," because one hand is exposed and three are concealed. The game also was known early as Russian whist (attested in English from 1839).
bridge (n.1) Look up bridge at
"any structure that affords passage over a ravine or river," Old English brycge, from Proto-Germanic *brugjo (source also of Old Saxon bruggia, Old Norse bryggja, Old Frisian brigge, Dutch brug, Old High German brucca, German Brücke), from PIE root *bhru "log, beam," hence "wooden causeway" (source also of Gaulish briva "bridge," Old Church Slavonic bruvuno "beam," Serbian brv "footbridge").

The original notion is of a beam or log. Compare Old Church Slavonic mostu, Serbo-Croatian most "bridge," probably originally "beam" and a loanword from Germanic, related to English mast (n.1). For vowel evolution, see bury. Meaning "bony upper part of the nose" is from early 15c.; of stringed instruments from late 14c. The bridge of a ship (by 1843) originally was a "narrow raised platform athwart the ship whence the Captain issues his orders" [Sir Geoffrey Callender, "Sea Passages"].
Bridge in steam-vessels is the connection between the paddle-boxes, from which the officer in charge directs the motion of the vessel. [Smyth, "The Sailor's Word-book," 1867]
bridge (v.) Look up bridge at
"build a bridge on or over, span with a bridge," Old English brycgian "to bridge, make a causeway," from bridge (n.). Figurative use by 1831. Related: Bridged; bridging.
bridgehead (n.) Look up bridgehead at
also bridge-head, 1801, "a fortification covering that end of a bridge which is most exposed to an enemy," from bridge (n.1) + head (n.). Compare French tête-de-pont. From 1930 as "advance point attained by a military force in the face of the enemy" (especially by invasion).
Bridget Look up Bridget at
fem. proper name, from Irish Brighid, goddess associated with fire, spring, fertility, healing, poetry and smithcraft, from brigh "strength," from Celtic *brig-o-, from PIE *bhrgh-nt- "high, mighty," from root *bhergh- (2) "high."
bridle (v.) Look up bridle at
"to control, dominate; restrain, guide, govern," c. 1200, a figurative use of Old English bridlian "to fit with a bridle," from bridel (see bridle (n.)). Meaning "to throw up the head" (as a horse does when reined in) is from mid-15c. Related: Bridled; bridling.
bridle (n.) Look up bridle at
"headpiece of a horse's harness," used to govern and restrain the animal, Old English bridel "a bridle, a restraint," related to bregdan "move quickly," from Proto-Germanic *bregdilaz (see braid (v.)). The etymological notion would be that which one "pulls quickly." Cognate with Old Frisian bridel, Middle Dutch breydel, Dutch breidel, Old High German bridel. A bridle-path (1806) is one wide enough to be traveled on horseback but not with a carriage.
Brie (n.) Look up Brie at
type of soft cheese, 1848, from name of district in department Seine-et-Marne, southeast of Paris, famous for its cheeses. The name is from Gaulish briga "hill, height."
brief (v.) Look up brief at
"to give instructions or information to," 1866; originally "to instruct by a brief" (1862), from brief (n.). Related: Briefed; briefing.
brief (n.) Look up brief at
early 14c., bref, "a writing issued by authority," from Latin breve (genitive brevis), noun derivative of adjective brevis "short, little" (from PIE root *mregh-u- "short") which came to mean "letter, summary," specifically a letter of the pope (less ample and solemn than a bull), and thus came to mean "letter of authority," which yielded the modern, legal sense of "systematic summary of the facts of a case" (1630s). Sense of "a short or concise writing" is from 1560s.
brief (adj.) Look up brief at
c. 1300, bref, "of short duration;" early 14c., "small with respect to length, short;" from Latin brevis (adj.) "short, low, little, shallow," from PIE *mregh-wi-, from root *mregh-u- "short."
briefcase (n.) Look up briefcase at
also brief-case, "portable folding case for holding papers," 1908, from brief (n.) in the paper sense + case (n.2). Earlier was brief-bag (1806).
briefing (n.) Look up briefing at
"fact or situation of giving preliminary instructions," 1910 (but popularized by World War II pre-flight conferences), verbal noun from brief (v.).
briefly (adv.) Look up briefly at
c. 1300, from brief (adj.) + -ly (2). As an introduction to a statement, "in short," recorded from 1510s.
briefs (n.) Look up briefs at
"short, tight underwear," 1934, from brief (adj.).
brier (n.1) Look up brier at
"thorny shrub, heath," 1540s, variant of Middle English brere, from Old English brer (Anglian), brær (West Saxon) "brier, bramble, prickly bush," which is of unknown origin. Briar is the most recent variant (c. 1600). Originally used of prickly, thorny bushes in general, now mostly restricted to wild rose bushes (sweet briar). Used figuratively (in plural) for "troubles" from c. 1500. French bruyère "heath plant" (source of brier (n.2)) is considered to be unrelated.
brier (n.2) Look up brier at
type of tobacco pipe introduced to England c. 1859 and made from the root of a certain shrub (Erica arborea) in the south of France and Corsica, 1868, from French bruyère "heath plant," from Old French bruiere "heather, briar, heathland, moor" (12c.), from Gallo-Roman *brucaria, from Late Latin brucus "heather," from Gaulish *bruko- (compare Breton brug "heath," Welsh brwg, Old Irish froech). Form altered in English by influence of brier (n.1).
brig (n.) Look up brig at
"two-masted square-rigged vessel," 1720, colloquial shortening of brigantine (q.v.). Meaning "a ship's jail" is by 1841, American English, perhaps from the use of such vessels as prison ships upon retirement from active duty.
brigade (n.) Look up brigade at
subdivision of an army, 1630s, from French brigade "body of soldiers" (14c.), from Italian brigata "troop, crowd, gang," from brigare "to brawl, fight," from briga "strife, quarrel," perhaps of Celtic (compare Gaelic brigh, Welsh bri "power"), from PIE root *gwere- (1) "heavy." Or perhaps from Germanic.
brigadier (n.) Look up brigadier at
1670s, "officer in command of a brigade," from French brigadier, from brigade "body of soldiers" (see brigade). Brigadier-general is the fuller form of the title.
brigand (n.) Look up brigand at
c. 1400, also brigaunt, "lightly armed irregular foot-soldier," from Old French brigand (14c.), from Italian brigante "trooper, skirmisher, foot soldier," from brigare "to brawl, fight" (see brigade). Sense of "robber, freebooter, one who lives by pillaging" is earlier in English (late 14c.), reflecting the lack of distinction between professional mercenary armies and armed, organized criminals.
brigandage (n.) Look up brigandage at
"highway robbery by organized gangs," c. 1600, from French brigandage, from brigand (see brigand).
brigantine (n.) Look up brigantine at
"small two-masted ship," 1520s, from Middle French brigandin (15c.), from Italian brigantino, perhaps "skirmishing vessel, pirate ship," from brigante "skirmisher, pirate, brigand" from brigare "to fight" (see brigade and compare brigand).
bright (adj.) Look up bright at
"radiating or reflecting light," Old English bryht, metathesis of beorht "bright; splendid; clear-sounding; beautiful; divine," from Proto-Germanic *berhtaz "bright" (source also of Old Saxon berht, Old Norse bjartr, Old High German beraht, Gothic bairhts "bright"), from PIE root *bhereg- "to shine; bright, white." Meaning "quick-witted, having brilliant mental qualities" is from 1741.

The Germanic word was commonly used to form given names, and figures in the etymology of Robert, Albert, Bertha, Egbert, Gilbert, Herbert, Hubert, Lambert. In modern German it survives in names only (Albrecht, Ruprecht) and has been otherwise lost.
Bright's disease Look up Bright's disease at
"chronic nephritis," 1831, so called for English physician Richard Bright (1789-1858), who in 1827 first described it.
brighten (v.) Look up brighten at
Old English *beorhtnian "to make bright" (see bright (adj.) + -en (1)). Intransitive sense, "to become brighter," attested from c. 1300. Figurative use "dispel gloom from, cheer" is from 1590s. Related: Brightened; brightening. The simple verb bright (Old English byrhtan "be bright," geberhtan "make bright") was in Middle English, often in figurative senses "cleanse, purify; clarify, explain," but has become obsolete.
brightness (n.) Look up brightness at
Old English beorhtnes "brightness, clearness, splendor, beauty;" see bright + -ness.
brill (n.) Look up brill at
kind of flat fish, late 15c., of unknown origin.
brilliance (n.) Look up brilliance at
"quality of being brilliant," 1755, from brilliant + -ance. Figurative sense (of wit, intelligence, etc.) is from 1779. Distinguished from brilliancy in that the latter usually is applied to things measurable in degrees.