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See also: Bristle



From Middle English bristil, bristel, brustel, from Old English bristl, *brystl, *byrstel, from Proto-West Germanic *burstilu, diminutive of Proto-West Germanic *bursti, from Proto-Germanic *burstiz (compare Dutch borstel, German Borste (boar's bristle), Icelandic burst), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰr̥stís (compare Middle Irish brostaid (to goad, spur), Latin fastīgium (top), Polish barszcz (hogweed)), equivalent to brust +‎ -le.


  • IPA(key): /ˈbɹɪsəl/
    • (file)
  • (dated, rural folk speech of New England and Upstate New York) IPA(key): /ˈbɹʌsəl/[1][2]
  • (dated, Southern US rural folk speech) IPA(key): /ˈbɹɪstəl/[3]
  • Rhymes: -ɪsəl


bristle (plural bristles)

  1. A stiff or coarse hair.
    the bristles of a pig
  2. The hairs or other filaments that make up a brush, broom, or similar item.

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


bristle (third-person singular simple present bristles, present participle bristling, simple past and past participle bristled)

  1. To rise or stand erect, like bristles.
  2. abound, to have an abundance of something
  3. (with at) To be on one's guard or raise one's defenses; to react with fear, suspicion, or distance.
    The employees bristled at the prospect of working through the holidays.
    • c. 1596, William Shakespeare, “The Life and Death of King Iohn”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act IV, scene iii]:
      Now for the bare-picked bone of majesty / Doth dogged war bristle his angry crest.
    • 2013 June 22, “Engineers of a different kind”, in 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.
    • 2021 May 5, Barry Doe, “The Independent has a better grasp than GWR's spokesman”, in RAIL, number 930, page 58:
      If only the industry could be honest and explain why it has been forced, owing to government policies, to increase fares over the quarter century since privatisation. Instead, it is defensive and clearly bristles with annoyance when someone merely states the facts.
  4. To fix a bristle to.
    to bristle a thread

Derived terms[edit]



  • bristle at OneLook Dictionary Search
  1. ^ Bingham, Caleb (1808), “Improprieties in Pronunciation, common among the people of New-England”, in The Child's Companion; Being a Conciſe Spelling-book [] [1], 12th edition, Boston: Manning & Loring, OCLC 671561968, page 74.
  2. ^ Hans Kurath and Raven Ioor McDavid (1961). The pronunciation of English in the Atlantic States: based upon the collections of the linguistic atlas of the Eastern United States. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, p. 130.
  3. ^ Jones, M. Jean (August 1973) The Regional English of the Former Inhabitants of Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains[2], University of Tennessee, Knoxville, page 102.