brack·​ish | \ˈbra-kish \

Definition of brackish 

1 : somewhat salty brackish water

2a : not appealing to the taste brackish tea

b : repulsive a brackish personality

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from brackish

brackishness noun

Did You Know?

When the word brackish first appeared in English in the 1500s, it simply meant "salty," as did its Dutch ancestor "brak." Then, as now, brackish water could simply be a mixture of saltwater and freshwater. Since that time, however, "brackish" has developed the additional meanings of "unpalatable" or "distasteful" - presumably because of the undrinkable quality of saltwater. "The brackish water that we drink / Creeps with a loathsome slime, / And the bitter bread they weigh in scales / Is full of chalk and lime." As this use from Oscar Wilde's "Ballad of Reading Gaol" illustrates, brackish water can also include things other than salt that make it unpleasant to drink.

Examples of brackish in a Sentence

the office coffee is often some brackish brew that's been sitting around for a couple of hours the river becomes brackish as we approach the tidemark

Recent Examples on the Web

Still, gators—who prefer freshwater marshes and swamps, but can also thrive in the brackish Glades—are the more plentiful species. Tyler Moss, Condé Nast Traveler, "8 Best Places to See Wildlife in the U.S.," 23 Apr. 2018 And water siphoned off the Sacramento River in the northern delta would be fresher than what’s pumped now from the more brackish southern region. George Skelton,, "What do Southern Californians really get out of Gov. Jerry Brown's twin tunnels project?," 12 July 2018 Those with open wounds are encouraged by the New Jersey Health Department to avoid brackish water, according to WPVI. Josh Magness, miamiherald, "Flesh-eating bacteria may cost a man all his limbs. He got it while crabbing, family says," 10 July 2018 The brackish places where rivers meet seas are also a prime habitat for Vibrio. Cleve Wootson,, "A man went crabbing - and came back with flesh-eating bacteria that now threaten his life," 10 July 2018 Vibrio infections can be caused by ingestion of water or shellfish that contain the bacteria, or by direct skin exposure to Vibrio-containing salt or brackish water. Scott Dance,, "Marylanders warned to avoid Venezuelan crab meat after nine sickened by Vibrio bacteria," 7 July 2018 This part of the state, at the border of Taylor and Price counties, is kind of like brackish water, in land form. Chelsey Lewis, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wisconsin's highest point - Timm's Hill - is a quiet escape away from everything," 5 July 2018 Deuel Vocational Institution draws water from brackish wells on its grounds and runs it through a two-step treatment process before providing it 2,300 inmates and 1,000 employees for drinking or for showers. Adam Ashton, sacbee, "Bottled water tab at a California prison has hit $46,000 a month," 2 July 2018 The result: Fresh water turned brackish, which turned to salt water, killing the marshes and eroding the land, creating more areas of open water that encroached farther and farther inland, allowing even more salt water to flow in. Gena Somra, CNN, "Louisiana's shrinking marshes signal the loss of a way of life," 6 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'brackish.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of brackish

circa 1552, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for brackish

Dutch brac salty; akin to Middle Low German brac salty

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about brackish

Listen to Our Podcast about brackish

Statistics for brackish

Last Updated

22 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for brackish

The first known use of brackish was circa 1552

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for brackish



English Language Learners Definition of brackish

: somewhat salty


brack·​ish | \ˈbra-kish \

Kids Definition of brackish

: somewhat salty brackish water

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on brackish

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with brackish

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for brackish

Spanish Central: Translation of brackish

Nglish: Translation of brackish for Spanish Speakers

Comments on brackish

What made you want to look up brackish? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


having a pattern of small flowers

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!