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Two kinds of brushes


From Middle English brusshe, from Old French broisse (Modern French brosse), from Vulgar Latin *brustia, from Proto-Germanic *burstiz (bristle), or also Vulgar Latin *bruscia, from Proto-Germanic *bruskaz (tuft, thicket, underbrush).


  • enPR: brŭsh, IPA(key): /bɹʌʃ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ʌʃ


brush (countable and uncountable, plural brushes)

  1. An implement consisting of multiple more or less flexible bristles or other filaments attached to a handle, used for any of various purposes including cleaning, painting, and arranging hair.
  2. The act of brushing something.
    She gave her hair a quick brush.
  3. A piece of conductive material, usually carbon, serving to maintain electrical contact between the stationary and rotating parts of a machine.
  4. A brush-like electrical discharge of sparks.
    Synonym: corposant
    • 2001, Oliver Sacks, Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood:
      If there was a sharp point nearby, electricity would stream from it in a luminous brush, a little corposant, and one could blow out candles with the outstreaming “electric wind,” or even get this to turn a little rotor on its pivot.
  5. (uncountable) Wild vegetation, generally larger than grass but smaller than trees.
    • 1906, Jack London, Before Adam, chapter 12:
      We broke away toward the north, the tribe howling on our track. Across the open spaces we gained, and in the brush they caught up with us, and more than once it was nip and tuck.
    • 2006, Edwin Black, chapter 2, in Internal Combustion:
      One typical Grecian kiln engorged one thousand muleloads of juniper wood in a single burn. Fifty such kilns would devour six thousand metric tons of trees and brush annually.
  6. A short and sometimes occasional encounter or experience.
    He has had brushes with communism from time to time.
    • 2013, Russell Brand, Russell Brand and the GQ awards: 'It's amazing how absurd it seems', The Guardian, 13 September:
      The usual visual grammar was in place – a carpet in the street, people in paddocks awaiting a brush with something glamorous, blokes with earpieces, birds in frocks of colliding colours that if sighted in nature would indicate the presence of poison.
  7. The furry tail of an animal, especially of a fox.
    • 1879, R[ichard] J[efferies], chapter 1, in The Amateur Poacher, London: Smith, Elder, & Co., [], OCLC 752825175:
      They burned the old gun that used to stand in the dark corner up in the garret, close to the stuffed fox that always grinned so fiercely. Perhaps the reason why he seemed in such a ghastly rage was that he did not come by his death fairly. Otherwise his pelt would not have been so perfect. And why else was he put away up there out of sight?—and so magnificent a brush as he had too.
  8. (zoology) A tuft of hair on the mandibles.
  9. (archaic) A short contest, or trial, of speed.
    • (Can we date this quote by Cornhill Magazine and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?)
      Let us enjoy a brush across the country.
  10. (music) An instrument, resembling a brush, used to produce a soft sound from drums or cymbals.
  11. (computer graphics) An on-screen tool for "painting" a particular colour or texture.
    • 2007, Lee Lanier, Maya Professional Tips and Techniques, page 12:
      Your bitmap image appears along the painted stroke. If you'd like to permanently create a custom sprite brush, it's fairly easy to adapt an existing MEL file [].
  12. (video games) In 3D video games, a convex polyhedron, especially one that defines structure of the play area.
  13. (poker, slang) The floorperson of a poker room, usually in a casino.
  14. (North Wisconsin, uncountable) Evergreen boughs, especially balsam, locally cut and baled for export, usually for use in making wreaths.



brush (third-person singular simple present brushes, present participle brushing, simple past and past participle brushed)

  1. (transitive) To clean with a brush.
    Brush your teeth.
  2. (transitive) To untangle or arrange with a brush.
    Brush your hair.
  3. (transitive) To apply with a brush.
    Brush the paint onto the walls.
  4. (transitive) To remove with a sweeping motion.
    Brush the flour off your clothes.
    • c. 1610-11, William Shakespeare, The Tempest, Act I scene ii[1]:
      Caliban: As wicked dew as e'er my mother brush'd / With raven's feather from unwholesome fen / Drop on you both! []
  5. (transitive, intransitive) To touch with a sweeping motion, or lightly in passing.
    Her scarf brushed his skin.
    • (Can we date this quote by Fairfax and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?)
      Some spread their sails, some with strong oars sweep / The waters smooth, and brush the buxom wave.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book I”, in Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books, London: Printed [by Samuel Simmons], and are to be sold by Peter Parker [] [a]nd by Robert Boulter [] [a]nd Matthias Walker, [], OCLC 228722708; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: The Text Exactly Reproduced from the First Edition of 1667: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, OCLC 230729554:
      Brushed with the hiss of rustling wings.
    • 1990 October 28, Paul Simon, “Further to Fly”, The Rhythm of the Saints, Warner Bros.
      Maybe you will find a love that you discover accidentally, who falls against you gently as a pickpocket brushes your thigh.
  6. (intransitive) To clean one's teeth by brushing them.
    • 2000, USA Today (volume 129, issues 2662-2673, page 92)
      Of course, Halloween does not have to be completely treatless. Plain chocolate candy is okay, provided you remember to brush afterwards.

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Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of broche