Definition of brackish
- brackish water
- brackish tea
- a brackish personality
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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
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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.
First Known Use: circa 1552See Words from the same year
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to lessen the seriousness or strength of
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