\ ˈbrüd \

Definition of brood

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : the young of an animal or a family of young especially : the young (as of a bird or insect) hatched or cared for at one time a hen with her brood of chicks
2 : a group having a common nature or origin the entire brood of chronicle plays— T. S. Eliot
3 : the children of a family takes their brood to church every Sunday



Definition of brood (Entry 2 of 3)

: kept for breeding (see breed entry 1 sense 3) a brood flock


brooded; brooding; broods

Definition of brood (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

1a : to sit on or incubate (eggs)
b : to produce by or as if by incubation : hatch
2 of a bird : to cover (young) with the wings
3 : to think anxiously or gloomily about : ponder I used to brood these things on my walk— Christopher Morley

intransitive verb

1a of a bird : to brood eggs or young
b : to sit quietly and thoughtfully : meditate
2 : hover, loom the old fort brooding above the valley
3a : to dwell gloomily on a subject brooded over his mistake
b : to be in a state of depression sat brooding in her room

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Synonyms for brood

Synonyms: Verb

hatch, incubate, set, sit

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The Eggy History of Brood

One of the noun senses of brood that is often encountered today is "the children of a family" (as in "they showed up at the picnic with their whole brood"). This may seem as though it is unrelated to the most commonly used verb sense, which is "to think anxiously or gloomily about; ponder," but the two words come from the same source, the Old English brōd. The noun form of brood came first, and the verb, when it appeared in our language, was used to refer to the action of chickens sitting on their eggs. Eventually the verb began to be used in a figurative manner, and took on the "worriedly pondering" sense it has today.

Examples of brood in a Sentence


a hen and her brood of chicks Mrs. Smith took her brood to church every Sunday.


He brooded over his mistake. After the argument, she sat in her bedroom, brooding.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Tragically, Will and Kate's adorable brood of children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis, were not photographed walking to the church for Christmas service. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank Made Their Royal Christmas Debut This Year," 26 Dec. 2018 Emmy Rossum stars as Fiona Gallagher, the eldest child in a brood born to an absentee mom and a father who struggles with addiction. Hannah Dylan Pasternak, SELF, "15 Netflix Shows With the Hottest Sex Scenes You Need to Watch," 21 Dec. 2018 As expected, the real stars of the photo are the royal brood: Prince George, 5, Princess Charlotte, 3, and Prince Louis, seven months. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis Steal the Show in the Royal Family Christmas Card," 14 Dec. 2018 After officially adding three more children to her brood, Sarah uploaded the video to share with her friends, but did not expect the massive response that followed. Herrine Ro, Country Living, "These Three Foster Children Received the Best Christmas Present Ever," 11 Dec. 2015 And don't forget the Pearson matriarch, Mandy Moore, who was just as stunning as her brood in a custom Rodarte gown. Zoe Weiner, Glamour, "2018 Emmys: The Cast of This Is Us Reunites on Red Carpet," 17 Sep. 2018 Through hard-nosed determination and ruthless drive, Joe Jackson molded, trained and cajoled his brood into one of the greatest show business dynasties in history. People Staff,, "Joe Jackson Was Left Out of Son Michael's Will: 'This Is a Decision His Son Made' Says Lawyer," 27 June 2018 The molt is timed to occur on the breeding grounds when adult birds are tending broods. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Smith: Canada geese grouping up before molt migration," 9 June 2018 In the past, Kate Middleton has occasionally taken on the role of family photographer for her and Prince William's brood, providing Kensington Palace with some adorable images of the royal children. Julyssa Lopez, Glamour, "Meghan Markle Just Posted Her First Royal Tweet," 27 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Twelve years stranded on an island after being overthrown in a coup that was led by his brother, Prospero, the rightful duke of Milan, has been brooding over his grievances while developing his formidable occult powers. Charles Mcnulty,, "'The Tempest' at the Old Globe: Kate Burton casts a benevolent spell as Prospera," 26 June 2018 The new owner had started life as a barber who rose to become a prominent politician under Napoleon, but who later lost Napoleon’s patronage and retired wounded to his house to brood and collect great works of art. Luke Leitch, Vogue, "Male Patterned Boldness: Dolce & Gabbana’s Alta Sartoria Ode to Villa Carlotta," 9 July 2018 That led to a scene described in The Undefeated, with Cousins brooding on that balcony in the pre-dawn Las Vegas heat. Scott Ostler,, "When Cousins made his move," 6 July 2018 The same developer behind Geralt’s brooding, sword-and-magic adventures has now emerged with a first-person, shotgun-crazy, branching-narrative, hack-the-world, exploding-limbs dive into the criminal underbelly of near-future Los Angeles. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Cyberpunk 2077 world premiere: 50 minutes of William Gibson-level insanity," 14 June 2018 With his perpetually windswept black hair and brooding green eyes, Timothée Chalamet is the millennial answer to a young Leonardo DiCaprio. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "Timothée Chalamet Merchandise Is a Real Thing," 14 May 2018 From this attitude sprung a sound that is brooding yet upbeat. Josh Coe,, "Weakened Friends share a van, a house, and an indie attitude," 22 May 2018 But Harvey resisted the move initially, brooding about the decision and snapping at reporters for asking about his first relief appearance. Tyler Kepner, New York Times, "Matt Harvey Comes to a Crossroads With the Mets," 2 May 2018 The title track, which Billboard Dance is exclusively premiering, is the kind of silky, brooding tech house creation which Devant has built his name off of. Michael Sundius, Billboard, "Serge Devant Serves Up Tantalizing Tech House Track 'White Groove': Exclusive," 26 Apr. 2018

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


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined above


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

History and Etymology for brood


Middle English, from Old English brōd; akin to Middle High German bruot brood and perhaps to Old English beorma yeast — more at barm


Middle English brod- (in compounds), attributive use of brod, brood brood entry 1


Middle English broden, verbal derivative of brod, brood brood entry 1

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Learn More about brood

Dictionary Entries near brood





brood body

brood bud

brood capsule

Statistics for brood

Last Updated

14 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for brood

The first known use of brood was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for brood



English Language Learners Definition of brood

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a group of young birds (such as chickens) that were all born at the same time

: the children in someone's family



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

: to think a lot about something in an unhappy way


\ ˈbrüd \
brooded; brooding

Kids Definition of brood

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to sit on eggs to hatch them
2 : to cover (young) with the wings for warmth and protection a hen brooding her chicks
3 : to think long and anxiously about something She brooded over her mistake.



Kids Definition of brood (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the young of birds hatched at the same time a brood of chicks
2 : a group of young children or animals having the same mother


\ ˈbrüd \

Medical Definition of brood

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the young of an animal or a family of young especially : the young (as of a bird or insect) hatched or cared for at one time

Medical Definition of brood (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : to sit on or incubate (eggs)
b : to produce by or as if by incubation
2 : to think anxiously or gloomily about

intransitive verb

1 of a bird : to brood eggs or young
2a : to dwell gloomily on a subject
b : to be in a state of depression

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More from Merriam-Webster on brood

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with brood

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for brood

Spanish Central: Translation of brood

Nglish: Translation of brood for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of brood for Arabic Speakers

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