Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to: navigation, search



Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle French braire, from Vulgar Latin bragire, from Gaulish *bragu (compare Middle Irish braigid ‎(it crashes, explodes), Breton breugiñ ‎(to bray); akin to English break, Latin fragor ‎(crash), frangere ‎(to break)).


bray ‎(third-person singular simple present brays, present participle braying, simple past and past participle brayed)

  1. (intransitive) Of a donkey, to make its cry.
    Whenever I walked by, that donkey brayed at me.
  2. (intransitive) Of a camel, to make its cry.
  3. (intransitive) To make a harsh, discordant sound like a donkey's bray.
    He threw back his head and brayed with laughter.
  4. (transitive) To make or utter with a loud, discordant, or harsh and grating sound.
    • Milton
      Arms on armour clashing, brayed / Horrible discord.
    • Sir Walter Scott
      And varying notes the war pipes brayed.
    • Gray
      Heard ye the din of battle bray?


bray ‎(plural brays)

  1. The cry of an ass or donkey.
  2. The cry of a camel
  3. Any harsh, grating, or discordant sound.
    • Jerrold
      The bray and roar of multitudinous London.

Etymology 2[edit]

From Old French breier (Modern French broyer).


bray ‎(third-person singular simple present brays, present participle braying, simple past and past participle brayed)

  1. (now rare) To crush or pound, especially with a mortar.
    • Bible, Proverbs xxvii. 22
      Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar, [] yet will not his foolishness depart from him.
    • 1624, John Smith, Generall Historie, in Kupperman 1988, page 141:
      Their heads and shoulders are painted red with the roote Pocone brayed to powder, mixed with oyle [...].
    • 1625, Samuel Purchas, “Their Cocos and other fruits and food, their Trades and trading, Creatures profitable and hurtfull. Of Male their principall Iland. Their Houſes, Candou, Languages, Apparell.”, in Pvrchas his Pilgrimes. In Five Bookes. [...] The Second Part., volume II, London: Printed by William Stansby for Henrie Fetherstone, and are to be sold at his shop in Pauls Church-yard at the signe of the Rose, OCLC 63012317, page 1643 [sic: 1653]:
      They boyle it alſo, and after dry it and bray it, and of this bran, with egges, hony, milke, and butter of Cocos, they make Florentines, and verie good belly-timber.
  2. (Britain, chiefly Yorkshire) By extension, to hit someone or something.
    • 2011, Sarah Hall, Butchers Perfume from The Beautiful Indifference, Faber and Faber (2011), page 25:
      If anything he brayed him all the harder - the old family bull recognising his fighting days were close to over.