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A human brain


From Middle English brain, from Old English bræġen (brain), from Proto-Germanic *bragną (brain), from Proto-Indo-European *mreghmno-, *mreghmo- (skull, brain), from Proto-Indo-European *mreK- (marrow, sinciput). Cognate with Scots braine, brane (brain), North Frisian brayen, brein (brain), Saterland Frisian Brainge (brain), West Frisian brein (brain), Dutch brein (brain), Low German Brägen (brain), Bregen Ancient Greek βρεχμός (brekhmós, front part of the skull, top of the head).



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brain (plural brains)

  1. The control center of the central nervous system of an animal located in the skull which is responsible for perception, cognition, attention, memory, emotion, and action.
    • 2013 July 19, Ian Sample, “Irregular bedtimes may affect children's brains”, The Guardian Weekly, volume 189, number 6, page 34: 
      Irregular bedtimes may disrupt healthy brain development in young children, according to a study of intelligence and sleeping habits.  ¶ Going to bed at a different time each night affected girls more than boys, but both fared worse on mental tasks than children who had a set bedtime, researchers found.
  2. (informal) An intelligent person.
    He was a total brain.
  3. (UK, plural only) A person who provides the intelligence required for something.
    He is the brains behind the scheme.
  4. (in the plural) Intellect.
    • 2008 Quaker Action (magazine) Rights trampled in rush to deport immigrant workers, Fall 2008, Vol. 89, No. 3, p. 8:
      "We provided a lot of brains and a lot of heart to the response when it was needed," says Sandra Sanchez, director of AFSC's Immigrants' Voice Program in Des Moines.
    He has a lot of brains.
  5. By analogy with a human brain, the part of a machine or computer that performs calculations.
    The computer's brain is capable of millions of calculations a second.
  6. (slang, vulgar) oral sex
    • 2012, Mack Maine featuring Turk and Mystikal, I'm On It
      You said I got brain from your dame in the range
      In the passing lane
      But you really ain't got no proof


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brain (third-person singular simple present brains, present participle braining, simple past and past participle brained)

  1. (transitive) To dash out the brains of; to kill by smashing the skull.
  2. (transitive, slang) To strike (someone) on the head.
  3. (transitive, figuratively) To destroy; to put an end to.
    • Shakespeare
      There thou mayst brain him.
    • Shakespeare
      It was the swift celerity of the death [] That brained my purpose.
  4. (transitive) To conceive in the mind; to understand.
    • Shakespeare
      'Tis still a dream, or else such stuff as madmen / Tongue, and brain not.