brack·​ish | \ ˈbra-kish How to pronounce brackish (audio) \

Definition of brackish

1 : somewhat salty brackish water
2a : not appealing to the taste brackish tea
b : repulsive a brackish personality

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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 So the initiative also provided them with a drip irrigation system, a low-volume technique that reduces the impact of using brackish water rather than freshwater. Agostino Petroni, Environment, "This sacred bean saved an indigenous clan from climate calamity," 25 Nov. 2020 The goal is to develop grapes that are able to flourish on the brackish local groundwater, which contains salt from the Mediterranean Sea. Yadid Levy, Smithsonian Magazine, "Why Wines From Israel’s Negev Desert May Represent the Future of Viticulture," 10 May 2020 While salt water dolphins require salt water to survive in the long term, the location could easily be close enough to the ocean to offer brackish water with an acceptable level of salinity. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Satellite Images Suggest North Korea Is Training Kamikaze Dolphins," 17 Nov. 2020 One by one, the personnel threw them overboard into the cold, brackish seawater to sink or swim. John Lisle, Smithsonian Magazine, "The Unsuccessful WWII Plot to Fight the Japanese With Radioactive Foxes," 29 Sep. 2020 Included in the muddy, brackish water was food refuse and bodily waste, both human and animal. David Reamer, Anchorage Daily News, "Mud, fires and bootlegging: What daily life looked like in the early years of Anchorage," 9 Nov. 2020 The town is about 200 miles (322 kilometers) west of New Orleans, sandwiched between the brackish marshes of two national wildlife refuges. Eric Roston,, "‘Nothing Left’: How Back-to-Back Hurricanes Gutted a U.S. Town," 11 Oct. 2020 The intersection of fresh creek water and the bay’s salt water creates a brackish marsh habitat whose conditions change with the tides and rains. Nora Mishanec,, "Enticing oysters to Presidio’s Crissy Field takes a bit of science and engineering," 5 Oct. 2020 In 1976, after a bad stretch fishing in the Keys, Mr. Evans and his guide Steve Huff tried the brackish sand flats outside the Homosassa, where there were rumors of big tarpon. Richard Adams Carey, WSJ, "‘Lords of the Fly’ Review: Long Live the Silver King!," 2 Oct. 2020

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for brackish

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The first known use of brackish was circa 1552

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Last Updated

19 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Brackish.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for brackish


How to pronounce brackish (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of brackish

: somewhat salty


brack·​ish | \ ˈbra-kish How to pronounce brackish (audio) \

Kids Definition of brackish

: somewhat salty brackish water

More from Merriam-Webster on brackish

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for brackish

Nglish: Translation of brackish for Spanish Speakers

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