Etymology
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brier (n.1)

"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)

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).

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Definitions of brier

brier (n.)
tangled mass of prickly plants;
Synonyms: brierpatch / brier patch
brier (n.)
a thorny stem or twig;
brier (n.)
Eurasian rose with prickly stems and fragrant leaves and bright pink flowers followed by scarlet hips;
Synonyms: sweetbrier / sweetbriar / briar / eglantine / Rosa eglanteria
brier (n.)
a very prickly woody vine of the eastern United States growing in tangled masses having tough round stems with shiny leathery leaves and small greenish flowers followed by clusters of inedible shiny black berries;
Synonyms: bullbrier / greenbrier / catbrier / horse brier / horse-brier / briar / Smilax rotundifolia
brier (n.)
evergreen treelike Mediterranean shrub having fragrant white flowers in large terminal panicles and hard woody roots used to make tobacco pipes;
Synonyms: tree heath / briar / Erica arborea
From wordnet.princeton.edu