Etymology
Advertisement
brown (adj.)

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.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
brown (v.)
c. 1300, "to become brown," from brown (adj.). From 1560s as "to make brown." Related: Browned; browning.
Related entries & more 
brown (n.)
c. 1300, "a brown thing or part of a thing;" c. 1600, "brown color;" from brown (adj.).
Related entries & more 
brown-out (n.)
"partial blackout," 1942, based on blackout in the "dousing of lights as an air raid precaution" sense; from brown (adj.) as "not quite black."
Related entries & more 
brown-bag (v.)
"to bring lunch or liquor in a brown paper bag," 1970, from brown (adj.) + bag (n.). Related: Brown-bagging.
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
brown-nose (v.)

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 (by 1945, early citations suggest military slang), brown-nosing (by 1950). British bumsucker "sycophant" is attested from 1877.

Related entries & more 
brownish (adj.)
"somewhat brown," 1550s, from brown (adj.) + -ish.
Related entries & more 
brownfield (n.)
abandoned or disused industrial land, often contaminated to some degree, 1992, American English, from brown (adj.) + field (n.).
Related entries & more 
Bruno 
masc. proper name, from Old High German Bruno, literally "brown" (see brown (adj.)).
Related entries & more 
Brown Shirt (n.)
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.
Related entries & more