bristle

noun
bris·​tle | \ ˈbri-səl How to pronounce bristle (audio) \

Definition of bristle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a short stiff coarse hair or filament hog bristles short bristle paint brushes

bristle

verb
bristled; bristling\ ˈbris-​liŋ How to pronounce bristling (audio) , ˈbri-​sə-​ \

Definition of bristle (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to furnish with short stiff coarse hairs or filaments : to furnish with bristles
2 : to make aggressive or angry : to make bristly : ruffle

intransitive verb

1a : to rise and stand stiffly erect quills bristling
b : to raise the bristles (as in anger) a snarling, bristling dog
2 : to take on an aggressively defensive attitude (as in response to a slight or criticism) he bristled at the accusations of corruption
3a : to be full of or covered with especially something suggestive of bristles roofs bristled with chimneys
b : to be full of something specified book bristles with detail and irony— W. J. Broad

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Other Words from bristle

Noun

bristlelike \ ˈbri-​sə(l)-​ˌlīk How to pronounce bristlelike (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for bristle

Synonyms: Noun

fiber, filament, hair, thread

Synonyms: Verb

abound, brim, bulge, burst, bustle, buzz, crawl, hum, overflow, pullulate, swarm, teem

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Examples of bristle in a Sentence

Noun

a face covered with bristles the bristles of a brush

Verb

Electricity makes your hair bristle. a recent college grad thrilled to be starting a new life in a city bristling with possibilities
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Just put a pump of foundation on the back of your hand, dab the bristles in it, and, starting near your nose, buff the product onto your skin. Jessica Matlin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Meghan Markle's Makeup Artist on How to Look Like a Modern-Day Duchess," 17 Apr. 2019 Christine Ha swirls her foundation on with a brush, feeling precisely where its bristles kiss her skin. Allure, "Blindness & Beauty: How Visually Impaired Women Changed an Industry That Ignored Them," 2 Apr. 2019 For skin that's rough and dappled, the DermaSweep gives a mild refresh, using smooth bristles along with vacuum suction to gently exfoliate and boost circulation. Lindsay Silberman, Town & Country, "How to Reverse Sun Damage, According to Dermatologists," 16 Jan. 2019 Its smart elliptical design means smooth swaths of hair with minimal tugging, and the combination of nylon pin bristles detangle while tufted bristles smooth. Jessica Teich, Good Housekeeping, "This Insanely Popular Hair Dryer Is the Perfect Last-Minute Mother's Day Gift," 26 Apr. 2019 But many in this city of dusty desert winds and blistering salsa, bristle at the prospect of their home becoming a border wall poster child. Will Weissert, The Seattle Times, "El Paso bristles at Trump’s claim that wall made city safe," 11 Feb. 2019 In the school pickup lane, on my morning run, sitting in a Lyft—I’d close my eyes and imagine kissing a man on that spot where the jaw meets the neck, feeling the bristle of hair against my lips. Lyz Lenz, Glamour, "I Wanted to Fall in Love With Men. I Also Wanted Men to Leave Me the Hell Alone," 15 Apr. 2019 Swap in a new one before this if the bristles become visibly frayed. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "What's the Most Sanitary Way to Store Your Toothbrush?," 29 Mar. 2019 Handcrafted by Japanese artisans with cruelty-free nylon bristles and a sustainable hardwood birch handle, editorial makeup star Gucci Westman’s new foundation brush creates a radiant party-ready complexion. Zoe Ruffner, Vogue, "The Best Beauty Gifts Under $100 to Give Everyone on Your List," 19 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Opposition libertarians bristled at Butina's outreach to the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, according to former collaborators. Matthew Bodner And Angela Charlton, Fox News, "Misfire: Maria Butina's strange route from Russia to US jail," 10 Sep. 2018 While Sosa embraced the attention, McGwire bristled at times. SI.com, "Exiled by the Cubs, Sammy Sosa Is Enjoying the Life He Wants You to See," 27 June 2018 Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar bristled Monday at criticism that the plan Trump announced Friday does not go far enough. Jayne O'donnell, USA TODAY, "Drug prices can be cut without Medicare bargaining, Health and Human Services chief Azar says," 14 May 2018 The good news is that this portrait of two old friends and their hapless negotiations with their erotic and professional lives, and with each other, bristles with Mr. Feiffer’s inimitable wit. Jules Feiffer, New York Times, "Review: ‘Bernard and Huey’ Has Wit and Personality. Stale Jokes, Too.," 7 June 2018 Unremarkable songs pepper the film, including one that will make Bowie fans bristle, courtesy of James Corden’s yeti-hunting, struggling-nature-show host, Percy Patterson. Brent Mcknight, The Seattle Times, "‘Smallfoot’: Cute animated adventure walks a predictable path," 25 Sep. 2018 The North Korean dictator had also bristled a talk of denuclearizing his country. Fox News, "Burgess Owens on backlash caused by NFL's anthem decision," 25 May 2018 Normal paddle brushes typically tug hair because their thick, stiff bristles that easily get stuck in the knots. Mackenzie Dunn, Good Housekeeping, "This $8 Wet Brush Rescued My Hair from Tangles," 11 Apr. 2019 Many women, patients and doctors alike, bristled at the idea that the field needs men. Los Angeles Times, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Male doctors are disappearing from gynecology. Not everybody is thrilled about it," 27 Mar. 2018

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

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for bristle

Noun

Middle English bristil, from brust bristle, from Old English byrst; akin to Old High German burst bristle, and perhaps to Latin fastigium top

Verb

verbal derivative of bristle entry 1

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Statistics for bristle

Last Updated

31 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for bristle

The first known use of bristle was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for bristle

bristle

noun

English Language Learners Definition of bristle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a short, stiff hair, fiber, etc.

bristle

verb

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

of hair : to rise up and become stiff
: to show signs of anger : to become angry

bristle

noun
bris·​tle | \ ˈbri-səl How to pronounce bristle (audio) \

Kids Definition of bristle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a short stiff hair a hog's bristle
2 : a stiff hair or something like a hair fastened in a brush

bristle

verb
bristled; bristling

Kids Definition of bristle (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to rise up and stiffen like bristles Her evil laugh makes your hair bristle.
2 : to show signs of anger The judge bristled at the reminder of her stupidity.— Ellen Raskin, The Westing Game
3 : to be covered with The bush bristled with thorns.

bristle

noun
bris·​tle | \ ˈbris-əl How to pronounce bristle (audio) \

Medical Definition of bristle

: a short stiff coarse hair or filament

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