broody (adj.) Look up broody at
1510s, "apt or fit to breed," from brood (v.) + -y (2). Figuratively, of persons, "inclined to think long and deeply," from 1851. Also, in modern use (by 1980s), sometimes "full of maternal yearning." Related: Broodily; broodiness.
brook (v.) Look up brook at
"to endure," Old English brucan "to use, enjoy the use of, possess; eat; cohabit with," from Proto-Germanic *bruk- "to make use of, enjoy" (source also of Old Saxon brukan, Old Frisian bruka, Dutch gebruiken "to use," Old High German bruhhan, German brauchen "to use, need," Gothic brukjan), from PIE root *bhrug- "to enjoy." Sense of "use" as applied to food led to "be able to digest," and by 16c. to "endure, tolerate," always in a negative sense. The original meanings have become obsolete.
brook (n.) Look up brook at
"small natural stream," Old English broc "flowing stream, torrent," of obscure origin, probably from Proto-Germanic *broka- which yielded words in German (Bruch) and Dutch (broek) that have a sense of "marsh, bog." In Sussex and Kent, it means "water-meadow," and in plural, "low, marshy ground."
Brooke Look up Brooke at
fem. proper name, rare in U.S. before 1965, popular 1980s, 1990s.
Brooklyn Look up Brooklyn at
New York City borough, named for village founded there 1646 and named for Dutch township of Breukelen near Utrecht; which is from Old High German bruoh "moor, marshland;" spelling of U.S. place name influenced by brook (n.), which probably is distantly related. Related: Brooklynese.
broom (n.) Look up broom at
Old English brom, popular name for several types of shrubs common throughout Europe (used medicinally and for fuel) and characterized by long, slender branches and many yellow flowers, from Proto-Germanic *bræmaz "thorny bush" (source also of Dutch braam, German Brombeere "blackberry"), from PIE *bh(e)rem- "to project; a point."

As "twigs of broom tied together to a handle to make a tool for sweeping," mid-14c. Traditionally, both the flowers and sweeping with broom twigs were considered unlucky in May (Suffolk, Sussex, Wiltshire, etc.).
broomstick (n.) Look up broomstick at
also broom-stick, "stick or handle of a broom," 1680s, from broom (n.) + stick (n.). Earlier was broom-staff (1610s). Broom-handle is from 1817. The witch's flying broomstick originally was one among many such objects (pitchfork, trough, bowl), but the broomstick became fixed as the popular tool of supernatural flight via engravings from a famous Lancashire witch trial of 1612. Broomstick marriage, in reference to an informal wedding ceremony in which the parties jump over a broomstick, is attested from 1774.
Bros. Look up Bros. at
common commercial abbreviation of Brothers.
brose (n.) Look up brose at
Scottish dish of boiling milk, liquid in which meat has been broiled, seasoning, etc., poured over oatmeal or barley meal, 1650s, Scottish, earlier browes, from Old French broez, nominative of broet (13c.) "stew, soup made from meat broth," diminutive of breu, from Medieval Latin brodium, from Old High German brod "broth" (see broth). Athol brose (1801) was "honey and whisky mixed together in equal parts," taken as a cure for hoarseness or sore throat.
broth (n.) Look up broth at
"liquid in which flesh is boiled," Old English broþ, from Proto-Germanic *bruthan (source also of Old High German *brod, Old Norse broð), from verb root *bhreue- "to heat, boil, bubble;" also "liquid in which something has been boiled" (from PIE root *bhreu- "to boil, bubble, effervesce, burn"). Picked up from Germanic by the Romanic and Celtic languages (Italian brodo, Spanish brodio, Old French breu, Irish broth, Gaelic brot).

The Irishism broth of a boy, which is in Byron, was "thought to originate from the Irish Broth, passion -- Brotha passionate, spirited ..." [Farmer], and if so is not immediately related, but rather, with Scottish braith, from Middle English bratthe "violence, impetuosity; anger, rage" (c. 1200), which is from Old Norse braðr "sudden, hasty," from brað "haste."
brothel (n.) Look up brothel at
"bawdy house," 1590s, shortened from brothel-house, from brothel "prostitute" (late 15c.), earlier "vile, worthless person" of either sex (14c.), from Old English broðen past participle of breoðan "deteriorate, go to ruin," from Proto-Germanic *breuthan "to be broken up," related to *breutan "to break" (see brittle). In 16c. brothel-house was confused with unrelated bordel (see bordello) and the word shifted meaning from a person to a place.
brother (n.) Look up brother at
Old English broþor, from Proto-Germanic *brothar (source also of Old Norse broðir, Danish broder, Old Frisian brother, Dutch broþor "brother or half-brother by blood relation," also "one of two or more men closely united without regard for personal kinship," from Proto-Germanic *brothar (source also of Old Norse broðir, Danish broder, Old Frisian brother, Dutch broeder, Old High German bruodar, German Bruder, Gothic bróþar), from PIE root *bhrater.

A stable word across the Indo-European languages: Sanskrit bhrátár-, Old Persian brata, Greek phratér, Latin frater, Old Irish brathir, Welsh brawd, Lithuanian broterelis, Old Prussian brati, Old Church Slavonic bratru, Czech bratr, Polish brat, Russian bratŭ, Kurdish bera. Hungarian barát is from Slavic; Turkish birader is from Persian.

In the few cases where other words provide the sense, it is where the cognate of brother had been applied widely to "member of a fraternity," or as an appellation of a monk (Italian fra, Portuguese frade, Old French frere), or where there was need to distinguish "son of the same mother" from "son of the same father." For example Greek adelphos, which probably originally was an adjective with phrater and meant, specifically, "brother of the womb" or "brother by blood," and became the main word as phrater became "one of the same tribe." Spanish hermano "brother" is from Latin germanus "full brother" (on both the father's and mother's side); Middle English also had brother-german in this sense.

Meaning "male person in relation to any other person of the same ancestry" in English is from late 14c. Sense of "member of a mendicant order" is from c. 1500. As a familiar term of address from one man to another, it is attested from 1912 in U.S. slang; the specific use among blacks is recorded from 1973.
Brother Jonathan (n.) Look up Brother Jonathan at
sobriquet for "United States," 1816, often connected with Jonathan Trumbull (1740-1809) of Connecticut, who was called Brother Jonathan by George Washington, who often sought his advice, somehow in reference to 2 Sam i:26.
brother-in-law (n.) Look up brother-in-law at
"brother of one's husband or wife," also "brother of one's sister's husband," c. 1300; also brother in law; see brother + in-law. In Arabic, Urdu, Swahili, etc., brother-in-law, when addressed to a male who is not a brother-in-law, is an extreme insult, with implications of "I slept with your sister."
brotherhood (n.) Look up brotherhood at
14c., "fraternal relation, relationship between sons of the same father or mother," from brother + -hood; earlier was brotherhede (c. 1300), with ending as in maidenhead; and Old English had broþerrede, with ending as in kindred. The modern form of the word prevailed from 15c.

Originally "relationship of a brother," also "friendly companionship." Concrete sense of "an association of men for any purpose, a fraternity" is from mid-14c. in the Middle English word (later also "labor union," 1880s). Meaning "a class of individuals of the same kind" is from 1728. Meaning "community feeling uniting all humankind" is from 1784. Old English also had broðorscipe "brothership," broðorsibb "kinship of brothers."
What edge of subtlety canst thou suppose
Keen enough, wise and skilful as thou art,
To cut the link of brotherhood, by which
One common Maker bound me to the kind?

[Cowper, "The Task"]

Oh, the Protestants hate the Catholics,
And the Catholics hate the Protestants,
And the Hindus hate the Muslims,
And everybody hates the Jews.

[Tom Lehrer, "National Brotherhood Week" lyrics, 1965]
brotherliness (n.) Look up brotherliness at
Old English broðorlichnes, in a literal sense; see brotherly + -ness. Meaning "quality of being fraternally kind or affectionate" is from 1530s.
brotherly (adj.) Look up brotherly at
Old English broðorlic "of or pertaining to a brother;" see brother + -ly (1). Meaning "fraternal, kind, affectionate" is from 1530s.
brougham (n.) Look up brougham at
by 1849, one- or two-horse closed carriage with two or four wheels, for two or four persons, named for first Lord Brougham (1778-1868), Scottish jurist and reformer, who had one built for himself c. 1839. The family name is from a place in Westmoreland.
brought Look up brought at
past tense and past participle of bring (v.). For explanation of the form development, see thought.
brouhaha (n.) Look up brouhaha at
1890, from French brouhaha (15c.), said by Gamillscheg to have been, in medieval theater, "the cry of the devil disguised as clergy." If it has an etymology, it is perhaps from Hebrew barukh habba' "blessed be the one who comes," used on public occasions (as in Psalm cxviii).
brow (n.) Look up brow at
c. 1300, broue, plural broues, brouen, "arch of hair over the eye," also extended to the prominent ridge over the eye (early 14c.), from Old English bru (plural brua), which probably originally meant "eyebrow" (but also was used in the sense of "eyelash"), from Proto-Germanic *brus- "eyebrow" (source also of Old Norse brun), from PIE *bhru- "eyebrow" (source also of Sanskrit bhrus "eyebrow," Greek ophrys, Old Church Slavonic bruvi, Lithuanian bruvis "brow," Old Irish bru "edge"). The -n- in the Old Norse (brun) and German (braune) forms of the word are from a genitive plural inflection.

Sense extended by c. 1200 to "the forehead," especially with reference to movements and expressions that showed emotion or attitude, hence "general expression of the face" (1590s). From c. 1400 as "the slope of a steep place."

Words for "eyelid," "eyelash," and "eyebrow" changed about maddeningly in Old and Middle English (and in all the West Germanic languages). The extension of Old English bru to "eyelash," and later "eyelid" presumably was by association of the hair of the eyebrow with the hair of the eyelid. The eyebrows then became Old English oferbrua "overbrows" (early Middle English uvere breyhes or briges aboue þe eiges). The general word for "eyebrow" in Middle English was brew, breowen (c. 1200), from Old English bræw (West Saxon), *brew (Anglian), from Proto-Germanic *bræwi- "blinker, twinkler" (source also of Old Frisian bre, Old Saxon brawa, Middle Dutch brauwe "eyelid," Old High German brawa "eyebrow," Old Norse bra "eyebrow," Gothic brahw "twinkle, blink," in phrase in brahwa augins "in the twinkling of an eye").
browbeat (v.) Look up browbeat at
"to bully," originally "to bear down with stern or arrogant looks," 1580s, from brow + beat (v.).
[I]t appears from the earliest quotations ... that the brow in question was that of the beater, not of the beaten party; but it is not evident whether the meaning was 'to beat with one's (frowning) brows,' or 'to beat (?lower) one's brows at.' [OED]
Related: Browbeaten; browbeating.
brown (v.) Look up brown at
c. 1300, "to become brown," from brown (adj.). From 1560s as "to make brown." Related: Browned; browning.
brown (n.) Look up brown at
c. 1300, "a brown thing or part of a thing;" c. 1600, "brown color;" from brown (adj.).
brown (adj.) Look up brown at
Old English brun "dark, dusky," developing a definite color sense only 13c., from Proto-Germanic *brunaz (source also of Old Norse brunn, Danish brun, Old Frisian and Old High German brun, Dutch bruin, German braun), from PIE root *bher- (2) "bright; brown."

The Old English word also had a sense of "brightness, shining," preserved only in burnish. The Germanic word was adopted into Romanic (Middle Latin brunus, Italian and Spanish bruno, French brun). Brown sugar is from 1704. Brown Bess, slang name for old British Army flintlock musket, is first recorded 1785. Brown study "state of mental abstraction or meditation" is from 1530s; OED says the notion is "gloomy." Brown-paper "kind of coarse, stout, unbleached paper used for wrapping" is from 1650s.
Brown Shirt (n.) Look up Brown Shirt at
generic term for "Nazi, fascist," especially of the thuggish sort, 1934, originally (1922) in reference to the German Sturmabteilung ("Storm Detachment"), Nazi party militia founded 1921; they were called Brown Shirts in English because of their uniforms.
brown-bag (v.) Look up brown-bag at
"to bring lunch or liquor in a brown paper bag," 1970, from brown (adj.) + bag (n.). Related: Brown-bagging.
brown-nose (v.) Look up brown-nose at
also brownnose, 1939, American English colloquial, said to be military slang originally, from brown (adj.) + nose (n.), "from the implication that servility is tantamount to having one's nose in the anus of the person from whom advancement is sought" [Webster, 1961, quoted in OED]. Related: Brown-noser, brown-nosing (both 1950). British bumsucker "sycophant" is attested from 1877.
brown-out (n.) Look up brown-out at
"partial blackout," 1942, based on blackout in the "dousing of lights as an air raid precaution" sense; from brown (adj.) as "not quite black."
brownfield (n.) Look up brownfield at
abandoned or disused industrial land, often contaminated to some degree, 1992, American English, from brown (adj.) + field (n.).
Brownian movement (n.) Look up Brownian movement at
"rapid oscillatory motion observed in very small particles," 1850, for Scottish scientist Dr. Robert Brown (1773-1858), who first described it.
brownie (n.) Look up brownie at
1510s, "benevolent goblin supposed to haunt old farmhouses in Scotland," diminutive of brown "a wee brown man" (see brown (adj.)).
The brownie was believed to be very useful to the family, particularly if treated well by them, and to the servants, for whom while they slept he was wont to do many pieces of drudgery. In appearance the brownie was said to be meager, shaggy, and wild. [Century Dictionary]
As "small square of rich chocolate cake," often with nuts, 1897. As a brand-name of a type of inexpensive camera, 1900. The name for the junior branch of the Girl Guides or Girl Scouts is by 1916, in reference to their uniform color. Brownie point "notional credit for an achievement; favour in the eyes of another, esp. gained by sycophantic or servile behaviour" [OED] is by 1959, sometimes associated with Brownie in the Scouting sense but is perhaps rather from brown-nose.
Browning Look up Browning at
one of a range of U.S.-made firearms, 1905, named for inventor John M. Browning (1855-1926) of Utah.
brownish (adj.) Look up brownish at
"somewhat brown," 1550s, from brown (adj.) + -ish.
brownstone (n.) Look up brownstone at
"dark sandstone," 1849, from brown (adj.) + stone (n.). It was quarried extensively from Triassic deposits in the U.S. Northeast and much-used there as a building stone. As "house or building fronted with brownstone" from 1932.
ONLY a few years ago to live in a brownstone front was a badge of distinction in Manhattan. Novelists always had their rich housed in brownstone fronts. There was magic in the name a quarter of a century ago. The brownstone front was the home of the merchant prince. The material had to be mined on the western plains of New Jersey and teamed and lightered to New York at a great cost in those days. O.O. Mclntyre writes there are blocks and blocks of them above Forty-second street, but of late they have fallen into decay. The advent of the luxurious apartment house put them in the shade. Now they are being torn down with ruthless abandon and the last shred of dignity has vanished. ["The American Architect," Dec. 8, 1920]
browse (v.) Look up browse at
mid-15c., brousen, "feed on buds, eat leaves or twigs from" trees or bushes, from Old French broster "to sprout, bud," from brost "young shoot, twig, green food fit for cattle or deer," probably from Proto-Germanic *brust- "bud, shoot," from PIE *bhreus- "to swell, sprout" (see breast (n.)). It lost its -t in English perhaps on the mistaken notion that the letter was a past participle inflection. Figurative extension to "peruse" (books) is 1870s, American English. Related: Browsed; browsing.
browser (n.) Look up browser at
1845, "animal which browses," agent noun from browse (v.). From 1863 as "person who browses" among books. In the computer sense by 1982.
The first browser was invented at PARC by Larry Tesler, now a designer at Apple Computer. Tesler's first Smalltalk browser was a tree-structured device. It enabled programmers to hunt quickly for items in a Smalltalk dictionary. ["InfoWorld" magazine, vol. v, no. 4, Jan. 24, 1983]
brrr (interj.) Look up brrr at
sound suggestive shivering from cold, by 1898.
Bruce Look up Bruce at
a Norman surname, but etymology from Brix (place in La Manche, Normandy) is now considered doubtful ["Dictionary of English Surnames"]. Its earliest appearance in Britain is in the person of Robert de Bruis, a baron listed in the Domesday Book. His son, a friend of David I, king of Scotland, was granted by him in 1124 the lordship of Annandale, and David's son, Robert, founded the Scottish House of Bruce. As a given name for U.S. males, most popular for boys born c. 1946-1954.
brucellosis (n.) Look up brucellosis at
1930, Modern Latin, from Brucella, name of the bacteria that causes it, which is named for Scottish physician Sir David Bruce (1855-1931), who in 1887 discovered the bacteria, + -osis.
Bruges Look up Bruges at
city in modern Belgium, from plural of Flemish brug "bridge," from the Proto-Germanic source of English bridge (n.).
Bruin (n.) Look up Bruin at
proper name for a bear, late 15c., from Middle Dutch Bruin, name of the bear in "Reynard the Fox" fables; literally "brown;" cognate with English brown, German Braun (from PIE root *bher- (2) "bright; brown;" and compare bear (n.)).
bruise (v.) Look up bruise at
Old English brysan "to crush, pound, injure by a blow which discolors the skin," from Proto-Germanic *brusjan, from PIE root *bhreu- "to smash, cut, break up" (source also of Old Irish bronnaim "I wrong, I hurt;" Breton brezel "war," Vulgar Latin brisare "to break"). Merged by 17c. with Anglo-French bruiser "to break, smash," from Old French bruisier "to break, shatter," perhaps from Gaulish *brus-, from the same PIE root. Of fruits from early 14c. Intransitive sense "become bruised" is by 1912. Related: Bruised; bruising.
bruise (n.) Look up bruise at
"contusion without laceration, superficial injury caused by impact," 1540s, from bruise (v.).
bruiser (n.) Look up bruiser at
"a pugilist," 1744, agent noun from bruise (v.).
bruit (v.) Look up bruit at
"to report," 1520s, from bruit (n.) "rumor, tiding, fame, renown" (mid-15c.), from Old French bruit (n.) "noise, uproar, rumor," derived noun from bruire "to make noise, roar" (cognate with Italian bruito, Medieval Latin brugitus), which is of uncertain origin. Related: Bruited; bruiting.
brulee (adj.) Look up brulee at
from French brûlée "burned," fem. past participle of brûler "to burn," from Old French brusler (11c.); see broil (v.1). Crème brûlée was known in English by various names from early 18c., including a translated burnt cream.
brumal (adj.) Look up brumal at
"belonging to winter," 1510s, from Latin brumalis, from bruma "winter" (see brume). The Latin word also is the ultimate source of Brumaire, second month (Oct. 22-Nov. 20) in the calendar of the French Republic, literally "the foggy month;" coined 1793 by Fabre d'Eglantine from French brume "fog."
brume (n.) Look up brume at
"fog, mist," 1808, from French brume "fog" (14c.), in Old French, "wintertime," from Latin bruma "winter, winter solstice," perhaps with an etymological sense "season of the shortest day," from *brevima, contracted from brevissima, superlative of brevis "short" (from PIE root *mregh-u- "short").
brummagem (adj.) Look up brummagem at
"cheap and showy," 1829, from a noun formed from the vulgar pronunciation (noted by 1800) of Birmingham, England, in reference to articles mass-manufactured there. The word also recalls Birmingham's old reputation for counterfeiting.