Etymology
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breast (n.)

Old English breost "mammary gland of a woman, bosom; the thorax or chest, part of the body between the neck and the belly; mind, thought, disposition," from Proto-Germanic *brust-/*breust- "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 and affections, repository of designs and secrets" was in Old English. Breast-plate "armor for the front of the body" is from late 14c. Breast-pump is from 1821.

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breast (v.)
1590s, "to push the breast against," from breast (n.). From 1850 in figurative sense "meet boldly or openly." Related: Breasted; breasting.
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breast-stroke (n.)
method of swimming, 1867, from breast (n.) + stroke (n.). Related: Breast-stroker.
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breastbone (n.)
"sternum," Old English breostban; see breast (n.) + bone (n.).
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breastwork (n.)
"fieldwork thrown up breast-high for defense," 1640s, from breast (n.) + work (n.) in "fortification" sense. Old English had breostweall in same sense.
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redbreast (n.)

also red-breast, early 14c., of the English robin (Erithacus rubecula), from red (adj.1) + breast (n.). Later of the larger, orange-breasted American bird (Turdus migratorius). Related: Red-breasted.

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abreast (adv.)
mid-15c., a contraction of on brest "side-by-side," from a- (1) + breast (n.); the notion is of "with breasts in line." To keep abreast in figurative sense of "stay up-to-date" is from 1650s.
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brisket (n.)
"breast or rib-meat of an animal," mid-14c., brusket, perhaps from Old French bruschet, with identical sense of the English word, or from Old Norse brjosk "gristle, cartilage" (related to brjost "breast") or Danish bryske or Middle High German brusche "lump, swelling;" from PIE *bhreus- "to swell, sprout" (see breast (n.)).
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browse (v.)
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.
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chest (n.)

Old English cest "box, coffer, casket," usually large and with a hinged lid, from Proto-Germanic *kista (source also of Old Norse and Old High German kista, Old Frisian, Middle Dutch, German kiste, Dutch kist), an early borrowing from Latin cista "chest, box," from Greek kistē "a box, basket," from PIE *kista "woven container" (Beekes compares Middle Irish cess "basket, causeway of wickerwork, bee-hive," Old Welsh cest).

The meaning of the English word was extended to "thorax, trunk of the body from the neck to the diaphragm" c. 1400, replacing breast (n.) in that sense, on the metaphor of the ribs as a "box" for the heart. Meaning "place where public money is kept (common chest, mid-15c.) was extended to "public funds" (1580s). Chest of drawers is from 1670s.

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