1 of 2

verb (1)

brayed; braying; brays

intransitive verb

: to utter the characteristic loud harsh cry of a donkey
a braying donkey
also : to utter a sound like a donkey's
bray with laughter

transitive verb

: to utter or play loudly or harshly
"I'm the best!" he brayed.
bray noun


2 of 2

verb (2)

brayed; braying; brays

transitive verb

: to crush or grind fine
bray seeds in a mortar
: to spread thin
bray printing ink

Examples of bray in a Sentence

Verb (2) bray the seeds using a mortar and pestle
Recent Examples on the Web
Would that more institutions took that stand, instead of capitulating to a dishonest, braying mob. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 30 May 2024 Then an old-timer hoarse and exigent with years bugled like a braying donkey. Jack O'Connor, Outdoor Life, 2 May 2024 They’ve been besieged at Cooper Union — forced to hide in attics and spirited away from a braying mob through secret corridors. The Editors, National Review, 22 Apr. 2024 For car buyers who are fed up with Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s braying public persona, practically anybody would do. Dan Neil, WSJ, 7 Dec. 2023 In a world of social media braying and relentless self-promotion, Holstein’s modesty is refreshing. Véronique Hyland, ELLE, 7 Sep. 2023 Meanwhile, conservative Southerners brayed at Truman’s gestures toward the Black electorate. Aram Goudsouzian, Washington Post, 29 June 2023 Yet when the braying mob of anti-LGBTQ+ reactionaries targeted Target, the company folded like a cheap off-the-rack suit. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 1 June 2023 In Greek folklore, a donkey — an equid involved in the harvest and production of wine — was the mount that carried the god Dionysus into battle against the Giants, and flutes fashioned from donkey tibiae (which produced a braying-like sound) were used in his worship. Franz Lidz Samuel Aranda, New York Times, 14 Mar. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bray.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Verb (1)

Middle English, from Anglo-French braire to cry, bellow, roar, from Vulgar Latin *bragere, of Celtic origin; akin to Old Irish braigid he breaks wind

Verb (2)

Middle English, from Anglo-French braier, breier, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German brehhan to break — more at break

First Known Use

Verb (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

Verb (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of bray was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near bray

Cite this Entry

“Bray.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


: to utter the loud harsh cry of a donkey
: to produce a sound like the call of a donkey
bray noun

Geographical Definition


geographical name

town and port on the Irish Sea in eastern Ireland population 25,101

More from Merriam-Webster on bray

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