brain·​storm | \ ˈbrān-ˌstȯrm How to pronounce brainstorm (audio) \
brainstormed; brainstorming; brainstorms

Definition of brainstorm

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive + intransitive

: to try to solve a problem or come up with new ideas by having a discussion that includes all members of a group : to discuss a problem or issue and suggest solutions and ideas Students from Paris, Milan, Tokyo, and New York were invited to the Cambridge campus to brainstorm with MIT students on the marriage of couture and computer.— Elizabeth Thrasher Engineers are only beginning to brainstorm possible reasons that Polar Lander might have kept silent.— Sharon Begley — see also brainstorming


plural brainstorms

Definition of brainstorm (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : a sudden bright idea Another French immigrant to the Quaker City, Eugene Roussel, had a brainstorm that raised the curtain on a new era in the history of carbonated beverages.— David M. Schwartz
b : the act of brainstorming : a group discussion for the purpose of solving a problem or coming up with new ideas Once the brainstorms are done, however, everyone needs to get their individual pieces of the creative puzzle done as effectively and efficiently as possible.— Denise Blasevick
c a harebrained idea The layout looks as though it is the brainstorm of the art director of a struggling new advertising agency after a three-martini lunch.— Sloan Wilson
2 British, informal : a temporary state of confusion : a period of unclear thinking … Smith's rise was interrupted by a brainstorm, a failure of logic, a loss of bearings that will now stay with him for the rest of his life.— Paul Hayward
3 dated : a violent transient fit of insanity

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Other Words from brainstorm


brainstormer noun, plural brainstormers
In fact, the speakers joined the attendees as collaborative brainstormers in an exercise to find solutions to some truly global problems… — Amy Schrier

Synonyms for brainstorm

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of brainstorm in a Sentence

Noun Her latest brainstorm is to convert the garage into an apartment.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Earlier this year, Brooks convened an informal group of Democrats and never-Trump Republicans to brainstorm about ways the Trump administration could disrupt the election and to think about ways to prevent it. Reid J. Epstein,, "Trump sows doubt on voting. It keeps some people up at night.," 24 May 2020 Instead of going home, Reese and the other coaches huddled at school to brainstorm how best to support Duke’s family and classmates. USA Today, "'The reason that I am the man I am': Coronavirus takes legendary New Orleans football coach Wayne Reese Sr.," 19 May 2020 Now an author, even though his book tour and trip to Bali with his partner Lucy were canceled, Tom remains a creative entrepreneur, brainstorming ideas like double-breasted pajamas while stuck in his house. Marcus Jones,, "Here's everyone who showed up in the Parks and Recreation reunion, and what they're up to," 1 May 2020 At the same time, Spindler and his staff brainstormed ways to pay bills that go on even when the show does not. Bill Shaikin, Los Angeles Times, "Dodgers-loving historic Bakersfield theater taunts the Astros on its marquee," 28 Apr. 2020 Yale University’s School of Medicine was among the first to do so 22 years ago when a dermatologist was brainstorming ways to encourage his residents to become better observers of potential diagnostic signs. Domenica Bongiovanni, Indianapolis Star, "How a Marian University doctor found a medical mystery in Michelangelo's 'David'," 15 Jan. 2020 The board has been brainstorming ways to improve Hollywood’s schools, especially its middle schools, and stop families’ flight to charter schools. Lois K. Solomon,, "School Board weighs how to return students to Hollywood schools," 29 Oct. 2019 Together, participants brainstormed ways the museum might turn its gaze directly onto one of the most prevalent societal problems impacting the community in which it is located., "“We asked ourselves, ‘How can we as a cultural institution develop an exhibit and programming that would use art as a voice of social awareness, as a means for healing and reflection, and as a way to help destigmatize addiction?’”," 18 Oct. 2019 Cities globally are already brainstorming ways to transform initiatives taken during the pandemic into more permanent urban redesign. Cassandre Coyer, The Christian Science Monitor, "Boston’s car-free streets offer glimpse of low-carbon future," 24 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'brainstorm.' 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 brainstorm


1945, in the meaning defined above


circa 1861, in the meaning defined at sense 3

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Time Traveler for brainstorm

Time Traveler

The first known use of brainstorm was circa 1861

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Statistics for brainstorm

Last Updated

1 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Brainstorm.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for brainstorm


How to pronounce brainstorm (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of brainstorm

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to try to solve a problem by talking with other people : to discuss a problem and suggest solutions



English Language Learners Definition of brainstorm (Entry 2 of 2)

US : an idea that someone thinks of suddenly
British : a temporary state of confusion : a period of unclear thinking


brain·​storm | \ ˈbrān-ˌstȯrm How to pronounce brainstorm (audio) \

Kids Definition of brainstorm

: a sudden inspiration or idea

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