From Middle English bristil, brustel, diminutive of brust, from Old English byrst, from Proto-Germanic *burstiz (compare Dutch borstel, German Borste ‘boar's bristle’, Icelandic burst), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰr̥stís (compare Middle Irish brostaim ‘I goad, spur’, Latin fastīgium ‘top’, Polish barszcz ‘hogweed’).
bristle (plural bristles)
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- To be on one's guard or raise one's defenses; to react with fear, suspicion, or distance.
- Now for the bare-picked bone of majesty / Doth dogged war bristle his angry crest.
- 2013 June 22, “Engineers of a different kind”, The Economist, volume 407, number 8841, page 70:
- Private-equity nabobs bristle at being dubbed mere financiers. Piling debt onto companies’ balance-sheets is only a small part of what leveraged buy-outs are about, they insist. Improving the workings of the businesses they take over is just as core to their calling, if not more so. Much of their pleading is public-relations bluster.
- The employees bristled at the prospect of working through the holidays.
- To fix a bristle to.
- to bristle a thread