brackish (adj.) Look up brackish at Dictionary.com
1530s, from Scottish brack "salty" (see brack) + -ish. Related: Brackishness.
bract (n.) Look up bract at Dictionary.com
in botany, "small leaf at the base of a flower," Modern Latin, from Latin bractea, literally "thin metal plate," which is of unknown origin. Related: Bracteal; bracteate.
brad (n.) Look up brad at Dictionary.com
"small wire nail," late 13c., brod, from Old Norse broddr "spike, point, arrow," from Proto-Germanic *brozda- (source also of Old English brord "point, prick, blade of grass," Old High German brort "point, edge, crown"), from PIE *bhrs-dh-, from root *bhars- "projectile, point, bristle" (see bristle (n.)).
brady- Look up brady- at Dictionary.com
medical word-forming element meaning "slow, delayed, tardy," from Greek bradys "slow;" as in bradycardia (1890), with Latinized form of Greek kardia "heart;" bradykinesia, "slow movement," with Greek kinesis "movement, motion;" bradypnea, with Greek pneo/pnein "to breathe."
brae (n.) Look up brae at Dictionary.com
"steep slope," in northern England especially "the sides of a hill," early 14c., from Scottish, "slope, river bank," from Old Norse bra "eyelash," cognate with Old English bræw "eyelid," German Braue "eyebrow" (see brow). "The word must have passed through the sense of 'eye-brow' to 'brow of a hill', supercilium (cf. OE. eaghill 'eye-hill'=eyebrow)" [OED].
brag (n.) Look up brag at Dictionary.com
late 14c., "pomp; arrogance, pride;" see brag (v.); the exact relationship of the forms is uncertain. Meaning "that which is boasted" is from 1530s. As a once-popular poker-like card game, from 1734.
brag (v.) Look up brag at Dictionary.com
mid-14c., braggen "to make a loud sound," also "to talk boastfully," of obscure origin, perhaps related to bray of a trumpet, or related to the Middle English adjective brag "ostentatious, proud; spirited, brave" (early 14c.), which probably is from Celtic. Other sources suggest Old Norse bragr "the best, the toast (of anything)," also "poetry." Also see braggart for another possibility. Related: Bragged; bragging.
Braganza Look up Braganza at Dictionary.com
city in Portugal (Portuguese Bragança), from Celtic briga "height"
braggadocio (n.) Look up braggadocio at Dictionary.com
Spenser's coinage, 1590, as a name for his personification of vainglory, from brag, with augmentative ending by analogy to the Italian words then in vogue in England. In general use by 1594 for "an empty swaggerer;" of the talk of such persons, from 1734.
braggart (n.) Look up braggart at Dictionary.com
1570s, from French bragard (16c.), with pejorative ending (see -ard) + Middle French braguer "to flaunt, brag," perhaps originally "to show off clothes, especially breeches," from brague "breeches" (see bracket). There may be an element of codpiece-flaunting in all this.

The word in English has been at least influenced by brag (v.), even if, as some claim, it is unrelated to it. Bragger "arrogant or boastful person," agent noun from brag (v.), attested in English from late 14c.
Brahma Look up Brahma at Dictionary.com
1785, from Sanskrit Brahma, nominative of Brahman, chief god of the trinity Brahma-Vishnu-Siva in post-Vedic Hindu religion (see brahmin).
Brahman Look up Brahman at Dictionary.com
see brahmin.
Brahmaputra Look up Brahmaputra at Dictionary.com
river in Asia, Hindi, literally "son of Brahma."
brahmin (n.) Look up brahmin at Dictionary.com
"member of Boston's upper class," 1823, figurative use of Brahman "member of the highest priestly Hindu caste," late 15c., from Sanskrit brahmana-s, from brahman- "prayer," also "the universal soul, the Absolute," which is of uncertain origin. Related to Brahma.
braid (n.) Look up braid at Dictionary.com
in part from stem found in Old English gebrægd "craft, fraud," gebregd "commotion," Old Norse bragð "deed, trick," and in part from or influenced by related braid (v.). Earliest senses are "a deceit, stratagem, trick" (c. 1200), "sudden or quick movement" (c. 1300); meaning "anything plaited or entwined" (especially hair) is from 1520s.
braid (v.) Look up braid at Dictionary.com
"to plait, knit, weave, twist together," c. 1200, breidan, from Old English bregdan "to move quickly, pull, shake, swing, throw (in wrestling), draw (a sword); bend, weave, knit, join together; change color, vary; scheme, feign, pretend" (class III strong verb, past tense brægd, past participle brogden), from Proto-Germanic *bregthan "make sudden jerky movements from side to side" (compare Old Norse bregða "to brandish, turn about, braid;" Old Saxon bregdan "to weave;" Dutch breien "to knit;" Old High German brettan "to draw, weave, braid"), from PIE root *bherek- "to gleam, flash" (compare Sanskrit bhrasate "flames, blazes, shines"). In English the verb survives only in the narrow definition of "plait hair." Related: Braided; braiding.
braids (n.) Look up braids at Dictionary.com
1520s; see braid (n.).
brail (n.) Look up brail at Dictionary.com
small rope used on ships, mid-15c., from Old French brail, earlier braiel "belt, leather thong," from Latin bracale "waistbelt," from bracæ "breeches" (plural, see breeches).
Braille Look up Braille at Dictionary.com
1853, from Louis Braille (1809-1852), French musician and teacher, blind from age 3, who devised it c. 1830.
brain (v.) Look up brain at Dictionary.com
"to dash the brains out," late 14c., from brain (n.). Related: Brained; braining.
brain (n.) Look up brain at Dictionary.com
Old English brægen "brain," from Proto-Germanic *bragnam (source also of Middle Low German bregen, Old Frisian and Dutch brein), from PIE root *mregh-m(n)o- "skull, brain" (source also of Greek brekhmos "front part of the skull, top of the head"). But Liberman writes that brain "has no established cognates outside West Germanic ..." and is not connected to the Greek word. More probably, he writes, its etymon is PIE *bhragno "something broken."

The custom of using the plural to refer to the substance (literal or figurative), as opposed to the organ, dates from 16c. Figurative sense of "intellectual power" is from late 14c.; meaning "a clever person" is first recorded 1914. Brain teaser is from 1923. Brain stem first recorded 1879, from German. Brain drain is attested from 1963. An Old English word for "head" was brægnloca, which might be translated as "brain locker." In Middle English, brainsick (Old English brægenseoc) meant "mad, addled."
brain trust (n.) Look up brain trust at Dictionary.com
occasionally used since early 1900s, it became current in 1933, in reference to the intellectuals gathered by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt as advisors; from brain (n.) + trust (n.).
brain-child (n.) Look up brain-child at Dictionary.com
"idea, creation of one's own," 1881, from brain (n.) + child. Earlier was the more alliterative brain-brat (1630).
brain-dead (adj.) Look up brain-dead at Dictionary.com
1976, popularized in U.S. by the Karen Anne Quinlan case (brain death is from 1968).
brainiac (n.) Look up brainiac at Dictionary.com
"very smart person," 1982, U.S. slang, from brain (n.) + ending from ENIAC, etc. Brainiac also was the name of a comic book villain in the Superman series and a do-it-yourself computer building kit, both from the late 1950s, and the word may bear traces of either or both of these.
brainstorm (n.) Look up brainstorm at Dictionary.com
"brilliant idea, mental excitement, fit of mental application," 1849, from brain (n.) + figurative use of storm (n.). As a verb, recorded from 1920s. Related: Brainstormed; brainstorming.
brainwash (v.) Look up brainwash at Dictionary.com
1955 (past participle adjective brainwashed attested from 1953); see brainwashing.
brainwashing (n.) Look up brainwashing at Dictionary.com
1950, a literal translation of Chinese xi nao. A term from the Korean War.
brainy (adj.) Look up brainy at Dictionary.com
1845, from brain (n.) + -y (2). Latin equivalent cerebrosus meant "passionate, hot-headed," leading Tucker to remark that " 'Brainy' is not a natural expression for 'frantic.' "
braise (v.) Look up braise at Dictionary.com
1797, from French braiser "to stew" (17c.), from braise "live coals," from Old French brese "embers" (12c.), ultimately from West Germanic *brasa (as is Italian bragia, Spanish brasa), from PIE root *bhreu- "to boil, bubble, effervesce, burn." Related: Braised; braising.
brake (n.1) Look up brake at Dictionary.com
mid-15c., "instrument for crushing or pounding," from Middle Dutch braeke "flax brake," from breken "to break" (see break (v.)). The word was applied to many crushing implements and to the ring through the nose of a draught ox. It was influenced in sense by Old French brac, a form of bras "an arm," thus "a lever or handle," which was being used in English from late 14c., and applied to "a bridle or curb" from early 15c. One or the other or both took up the main modern meaning of "stopping device for a wheel," first attested 1772.
brake (n.2) Look up brake at Dictionary.com
kind of fern, early 14c.; see bracken.
brake (v.) Look up brake at Dictionary.com
"to apply a brake to a wheel," 1868, from brake (n.1). Earlier, "to beat flax" (late 14c.). Related: Braked; braking.
bramble (n.) Look up bramble at Dictionary.com
Old English bræmbel "rough, prickly shrub" (especially the blackberry bush), with euphonic -b-, from earlier bræmel, from Proto-Germanic *bræmaz (see broom).
bran (n.) Look up bran at Dictionary.com
c. 1300, "the husk of wheat, barley, etc., separated from the flour after grinding," from Old French bren "bran, scurf, scales, feces" (12c., Modern French bran), perhaps connected with Gaulish *brenno- "manure," or with burn (v.). The word also was used 16c. in English for "dandruff flakes."
branch (v.) Look up branch at Dictionary.com
"send out shoots or new limbs," late 14c., also, of blood vessels, family trees, etc., "to be forked," from branch (n.). Meaning "to spread out from a center, radiate" is from c. 1400. Related: Branched; branching.
branch (n.) Look up branch at Dictionary.com
c. 1300, braunch, "limb of a tree" (also used of things analogous to it, especially geographic features), from Old French branche "branch, bough, twig; branch of a family" (12c.), from Late Latin branca "footprint," later "a claw, paw," which is of unknown origin, probably from Gaulish. The connecting notion would be the shape (compare pedigree). Replaced native bough. Meaning "local office of a business" is first recorded 1817, from earlier sense of "component part of a system" (1690s).
brand (v.) Look up brand at Dictionary.com
c. 1400, "to brand, cauterize; stigmatize," originally of criminal marks or cauterized wounds, from brand (n.). As a means of marking property, 1580s; figuratively from c. 1600, often in a bad sense, with the criminal marking in mind. Related: Branded; branding.
brand (n.) Look up brand at Dictionary.com
Old English brand, brond "fire, flame; firebrand, piece of burning wood, torch," and (poetic) "sword," from Proto-Germanic *brandaz "a burning" (source also of Old Norse brandr, Old High German brant, Old Frisian brond "firebrand, blade of a sword," German brand "fire"), from PIE root *gwher- "to heat, warm." Meaning "identifying mark made by a hot iron" (1550s) broadened by 1827 to "a particular make of goods." Brand name is from 1922.
brand-new (adj.) Look up brand-new at Dictionary.com
1570s, from brand (n.) + new. Originally it must have meant "fresh from the fire" (Shakespeare has fire-new).
Brandenburg Look up Brandenburg at Dictionary.com
region in northeastern Germany, traditionally said to be ultimately from Slavic, but perhaps German and meaning literally "burned fortress," or else from a Celtic proper name.
brandish (v.) Look up brandish at Dictionary.com
mid-14c., from Old French brandiss-, present participle stem of brandir "to flourish (a sword)" (12c.), from brant "blade of a sword, prow of a ship," of Frankish origin, from Proto-Germanic *brandaz "a burning," from PIE root *gwher- "to heat, warm." Related: Brandished; brandishing.
brandy (n.) Look up brandy at Dictionary.com
1650s, abbreviation of brandywine (1620s) from Dutch brandewijn "burnt wine," so called because it is distilled (compare German cognate Branntwein and Czech palenka "brandy," from paliti "to burn"). The Brandywine Creek in Pennsylvania, site of a Revolutionary War battle, supposedly so named by the Dutch for the color of its waters.
branks (n.) Look up branks at Dictionary.com
1590s, of unknown origin, perhaps from a North Sea Germanic language. An instrument of punishment for women, originally Scottish, it was a kind of iron cage for the head with a metal bit attached to still the tongue.
Paide for caring a woman throughe the towne for skoulding, with branks, 4d. ["Municipal Accounts of Newcastle," 1595]
"Ungallant, and unmercifully severe, as this species of torture seems to be, Dr. Plot, in his History of Staffordshire, much prefers it to the cucking stool, which, he says, 'not only endangers the health of the party, but also gives the tongue liberty 'twixt every dip.' " [Brockett, "A Glossary of North Country Words,"1829].
Branwen Look up Branwen at Dictionary.com
fem. proper name, from Welsh bran "raven" + (g)wen "fair." Daughter of Llyr, she was one of the legendary heroines of Wales.
brash (adj.) Look up brash at Dictionary.com
1824, of obscure origin, originally American English; perhaps akin to 16c. Scottish brash "attack, assault," or French breche "fragments," especially of ice, which is from a Germanic source (compare Old High German brehha "breach," from brehhan "to break," from PIE root *bhreg- "to break"), or to German brechen "to vomit."
brass (n.) Look up brass at Dictionary.com
Old English bræs "brass, bronze," originally in reference to an alloy of copper and tin (now bronze), later and in modern use an alloy of two parts copper, one part zinc. A mystery word, with no known cognates beyond English. Perhaps akin to French brasser "to brew," because it is an alloy. It also has been compared to Old Swedish brasa "fire," but no sure connection can be made. Yet another theory connects it with Latin ferrum "iron," itself of obscure origin.

As brass was unknown in antiquity, use of the word in Bible translations, etc., likely means "bronze." The Romans were the first to deliberately make it. Words for "brass" in other languages (such as German Messing, Old English mæsling, French laiton, Italian ottone) also tend to be difficult to explain.

The meaning "effrontery, impudence" is from 1620s. Slang sense of "high officials" is first recorded 1899. The brass tacks that you get down to (1897) probably are the ones used to measure cloth on the counter of a dry goods store, suggesting precision. Slang brass balls "toughness, courage" (emphatically combining two metaphors for the same thing) attested by 1960s.
brasserie (n.) Look up brasserie at Dictionary.com
1864, "brewery," from French brasserie, from Middle French brasser "to brew," from Latin brace "grain used to prepare malt," said by Pliny to be a Celtic word (compare Welsh brag "malt").
brassiere (n.) Look up brassiere at Dictionary.com
18c., "woman's underbodice," from French brassière "child's chemise; shoulder strap" (17c.), from Old French braciere "arm guard" (14c.), from bras "an arm," from Latin bracchium "an arm," from Greek brakhion "an arm" (see brachio-). Modern use is a euphemistic borrowing employed in the garment trade by 1902.
brassy (adj.) Look up brassy at Dictionary.com
"impudent," 1570s, from brass + -y (2). Compare brazen. Sense of "debased and pretentious" is from 1580s, from brass as contrasted with gold; sense of "strident and artificial" is from 1865. Related: Brassily; brassiness.