"instrument consisting of flexible material (bristles, hair, etc.) attached to a handle or stock," late 14c., "dust-sweeper, a brush for sweeping," from Old French broisse, broce "a brush" (13c., Modern French brosse), perhaps from Vulgar Latin *bruscia "a bunch of new shoots" (used to sweep away dust), perhaps from Proto-Germanic *bruskaz "underbrush." Compare brush (n.2). As an instrument for applying paint, late 15c.; as an instrument for playing drums, 1927. Meaning "an application of a brush" is from 1822.