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

Definition of brainstorm

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 dated : a violent transient fit of insanity
2a : a sudden bright idea
b : a harebrained idea


brainstormed; brainstorming

Definition of brainstorm (Entry 2 of 2)

: 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

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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
brainstorming noun
… he's already done some brainstorming about new marketing strategies. — George Lazarus conducted several brainstorming sessions

Synonyms for brainstorm

Synonyms: Verb

communicate, intercommunicate

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Examples of brainstorm in a Sentence


I'm sorry—I must have been having a brainstorm when I wrote that.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The agency just announced a $7.6 million, five-year collaboration with WHOI to have space and ocean researchers brainstorm both the science and technology needed for future Europa missions. Eric Niiler, WIRED, "Forget the Moon—We Should Go to Jupiter’s Idyllic Europa," 5 July 2019 Morehouse has organized meetings with NFL players and other athletes the last two years to help them brainstorm social justice programs in their hometowns. Eric Stirgus, ajc, "UNCF kicks off college social justice initiative in Atlanta," 2 July 2019 On a recent day, 18-year-old Chantal Hueben stood in front of a group of fifth-graders and asked them to brainstorm about the messaging program Whatsapp, which most are using to participate in a group chat for their class. Washington Post, "How do you teach kids about texting? Bring in the teenagers," 11 June 2019 Regular show-and-tell sessions are held every two weeks to brainstorm and provide feedback. Agam Shah, WSJ, "Executive Injects Tech Into Highly Regulated Insurance Sector," 20 May 2019 And mistakes multiplied as the Obama-Biden administration poured taxpayer cash into countless eco-brainstorms: • $570 million dripped into solar-power company Solyndra. Deroy Murdock, National Review, "Waiting to Exhale: Biden’s $1.7 Trillion Anti-CO2 Tax Hike," 7 June 2019 Thanks to a brainstorm by Philly cops, and a $1 million grant, a new idea could break that cycle, The Philadelphia Citizen reports. Ray Boyd,, "Overdose death changes two families forever; The future of Germantown High School | Morning Newsletter," 6 June 2019 The Spheres, Amazon's giant biodomes in downtown Seattle, allow employees to escape the office to work and brainstorm surrounded by nature. Yoree Koh, WSJ, "Amazon’s Profit More Than Doubles on 17% Rise in Sales," 25 Apr. 2019 Keep a notebook handy and go over your to-do list, plan meals for the week or brainstorm ideas for a project at work. Sarah Jio, Woman's Day, "10 Easy Ways to Streamline Your Day," 18 Nov. 2010

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Palmer said dealership managers came up with the original promotion while brainstorming ways to celebrate the Fourth of July in a way that reflected the community's values. The Washington Post,, "Ford to Alabama dealership: No Bible, flag, gun deals," 27 June 2019 The collection of business, government and nonprofit representatives have been brainstorming all kinds of ideas: safety pamphlets, digital informational signs, paddling ambassadors, even dockworkers to manage boats at the Flats East Bank. Laura Johnston,, "First, we cleaned the river. Now we need to keep people safe," 20 June 2019 Webb and Mermell are huddling with a few other business groups to brainstorm fixes for this transportation crisis. Jon Chesto,, "Kendall Square businesses, citing a ‘state of emergency,’ demand revenue to fix the T," 24 June 2019 Acta Non Verba, which runs after-school and summer urban farming programs for youth, was able to start brainstorming the idea and gathering community feedback with a grant from the East Oakland Neighborhoods Initiative. Tara Duggan,, "Mandela Grocery Cooperative marks 10 years in West Oakland and announces plans for expansion," 7 June 2019 Furstenberg teamed up with Apple CEO Tim Cook to brainstorm an innovative way in which visitors to the museum—and especially non-visitors—can experience Lady Liberty. Samantha Swenson, ELLE Decor, "Apple's New Statue of Liberty App Offers an Amazing AR Experience," 17 May 2019 One year later, in 1970, activists like Brenda Howard brainstormed an alternative set of marches that would embrace the new ethos of gay liberation. Michael Waters, Smithsonian, "The First Pride Marches, in Photos," 7 June 2019 He brainstormed baby names: Strategy, Cadence and Pepper. Yoree Koh, WSJ, "The Tech Whiz Behind Vine and HQ Trivia Made Millions in His 20s. He Was Dead by 34.," 15 Feb. 2019 During its initial formation, the group would meet informally, sometimes even brainstorming in each other's kitchens. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "The Resistance Revival Chorus Celebrates a Year of Sisterhood," 23 July 2018

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


circa 1861, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1945, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for brainstorm

Last Updated

13 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for brainstorm

The first known use of brainstorm was circa 1861

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More Definitions for brainstorm



English Language Learners Definition of brainstorm

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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



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

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


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

Kids Definition of brainstorm

: a sudden inspiration or idea

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Comments on brainstorm

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


an act or instance of editing or removing

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