Etymology
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bristle (n.)
"stiff, coarse hair of certain animals," especially those set along the backs of hogs, Old English byrst "bristle," with metathesis of -r-, from Proto-Germanic *bursti- (source also of Middle Dutch borstel, German borste, Danish börste), from PIE *bhrsti- from root *bhars- "point, bristle" (source also of Sanskrit bhrstih "point, spike"). With -el, diminutive suffix. Extended to similar appendages on some plants and insects.
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pern (v.)

"to move with a winding motion," a word used in poetry by Yeats from c. 1920, probably from a variant of dialectal pirn (n.) "small cylinder on which thread or yarn is wound (mid-15c.), which seems to have survived in dialects in Celtic parts of Britain. It is perhaps from prin "a twig, shoot of a tree" (c.1400), itself a variant of prene "a nail, spike," from Old English preon.

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prod (v.)

1530s, "to poke with a stick," of uncertain origin; possibly [Barnhart, Century Dictionary] a variant of brod, from Middle English brodden "to goad," from Old Norse broddr "shaft, spike" (see brad), or perhaps imitative [OED]. Compare dialectal prog "pointed instrument for poking" (1610s), also as a verb, "to poke about." 

Figurative sense of "mental incitement or instigation" is by 1871. Related: Prodded; prodding.

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zinc (n.)
1650s, zinke, from German Zink, perhaps related to Zinke "prong, point;" said to have been used first by Paracelsus (c. 1526) on analogy of the form of its crystals after smelting. Zinke is from Old High German zint "a point, jag," from Proto-Germanic *teng- "tine" (source also of Old Norse tindr "point, top, summit," Old English tind "prong, spike"), from PIE *denk- "to bite." Spelling with -c- is from 1813, from French influence.
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brad (n.)
"small flat nail having instead of a head a slight projection on one side," late 13c., brod, from Old Norse broddr "spike, point, arrow," from Proto-Germanic *brozda- (source also of Old English brord "point, prick, blade of grass," Old High German brort "point, edge, crown"), from PIE *bhrs-dh-, from root *bhars- "projectile, point, bristle" (see bristle (n.)).
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aspic (n.)
type of savory meat jelly, 1789, from French aspic "jelly" (18c.), apparently from Old French aspe "asp" (see asp). The foodstuff said to be so called from its coldness (froid comme un aspic is said by Littré to be a proverbial phrase), or the colors in the gelatin, or the shape of the mold. It also was a French word for "lavender spike" and might refer to lavender as a seasoning element in the jelly.
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panhandle (n.)

"long, narrow projecting strip; something resembling the handle of a pan," 1851, from pan (n.) + handle (n.). Especially in geography, originally American English, in reference to a long, narrow strip projecting from a state or territory interposed between two other states or territories: from 1856, in reference to the spike of Virginia (now West Virginia) between Ohio and Pennsylvania. Florida, Texas, Idaho, Oklahoma, and Alaska also have them.

Meaning "an act of begging" is attested from 1849, perhaps from notion of an arm stuck out like a panhandle, or of one who handles a (beggar's) pan.

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nail (n.)

Old English negel "tapering metal pin," nægl "fingernail (handnægl), toenail," from Proto-Germanic *naglaz (source also of Old Norse nagl "fingernail," nagli "metal nail;" Old Saxon and Old High German nagel, Old Frisian neil, Middle Dutch naghel, Dutch nagel, German Nagel "fingernail; small metal spike"), from PIE root *(o)nogh "nail of the finger or toe" (source also of Greek onyx "claw, fingernail;" Latin unguis "fingernail, claw;" Old Church Slavonic noga "foot," noguti "fingernail, claw;" Lithuanian naga "hoof," nagutis "fingernail;" Old Irish ingen, Old Welsh eguin "fingernail, claw").

The "fingernail" sense seems to be the original one, but many figurative uses are from the "small metal spike" sense: hard as nails is from 1828. To hit the nail on the head "say or do just the right thing" is by 1520s; in Middle English driven in the nail (c. 1400) was "to drive home one's point, clinch an argument," and smiten the nail on the hed was "tell the exact truth" (mid-15c.). Phrase on the nail "on the spot, exactly" is from 1590s, of obscure origin; OED says it is not certain it belongs to this sense of nail.

As a unit of English cloth measure (about 2 1/4 inches) from late 14c.; perhaps from a nail being used to mark that length on the end of a yardstick.

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tag (n.1)

"small, hanging piece from a garment," c. 1400, of uncertain origin but probably from a Scandinavian source (compare Norwegian tagg "point, prong, barb," Swedish tagg "prickle, thorn") and related to Middle Low German tagge "branch, twig, spike"), from Proto-Germanic *tag-. The sense development might be "point of metal at the end of a cord, string, etc.," hence "part hanging loose." Or perhaps ultimately from PIE *dek-, a root forming words referring to "fringe; horsetail; locks of hair" (see tail (n.1)).

Meaning "a label" is first recorded 1835; sense of "automobile license-plate" is recorded from 1935, originally underworld slang. Meaning "an epithet, popular designation" is recorded from 1961, hence slang verb meaning "write graffiti in public places" (1990).

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brim (n.)
"brink, edge, margin," c. 1200, brymme "edge (of the sea), bank (of a river)," of obscure origin, perhaps akin to Old Norse barmr "rim, brim," probably related to dialectal German bräme "margin, border, fringe," from PIE *bhrem- "point, spike, edge." Extended by 1520s to the upper or projecting edge of anything hollow (cups, basins, hats).

Old English (and northern Middle English) had brim "sea, surf, pool, spring, river, body of water," of uncertain origin but probably unrelated, perhaps from the Germanic stem *brem- "to roar, rage." "It became obs. in ME.; but was perhaps used by Spenser" [OED].
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