variants or less commonly brusk
: markedly short and abrupt
a brusque reply
: blunt in manner or speech often to the point of ungracious harshness
was brusque with the customers
brusquely adverb
brusqueness noun

Did you know?

We borrowed brusque from French in the 1600s. The French, in turn, had borrowed it from Italian, where it was spelled brusco and meant "tart." And the Italian term came from bruscus, the Medieval Latin name for butcher's-broom, a shrub whose bristly leaf-like twigs have long been used for making brooms. English speakers initially used brusque to refer to a tartness in wine, but the word soon came to denote a harsh and stiff manner, which is just what you might expect of a word bristling with associations to stiff, scratchy brooms.

Choose the Right Synonym for brusque

bluff, blunt, brusque, curt, crusty, gruff mean abrupt and unceremonious in speech and manner.

bluff connotes good-natured outspokenness and unconventionality.

a bluff manner

blunt suggests directness of expression in disregard of others' feelings.

a blunt appraisal

brusque applies to a sharpness or ungraciousness.

a brusque response

curt implies disconcerting shortness or rude conciseness.

a curt command

crusty suggests a harsh or surly manner sometimes concealing an inner kindliness.

a crusty exterior

gruff suggests a hoarse or husky speech which may imply bad temper but more often implies embarrassment or shyness.

puts on a gruff pose

Examples of brusque in a Sentence

She asked for a cup of coffee and received a brusque reply: “We don't have any.” The teacher was brusque and impatient.
Recent Examples on the Web The brusque reply, which the X owner posted to the site on Sunday, came after Woods, a one-time Musk supporter, vowed to leave the platform (formerly known as Twitter) if Musk stripped users' ability to bar certain accounts from viewing and interacting with their posts. Elizabeth Napolitano, CBS News, 22 Aug. 2023 A lot of the criticism around Solomon has to do with his brusque personality. Nicole Goodkind, CNN, 21 Aug. 2023 But the brusque parlance of police, which used to be confined to squad cars and roll call rooms, is increasingly on full display. Libor Jany, Los Angeles Times, 2 Aug. 2023 In another small office, a brusque woman named Helen who handles intake at Beacon Light asks Truelove questions to assess his medical condition and mental health. Connor Sheets, Los Angeles Times, 23 July 2023 Justin Theroux played a brusque, blustering Mr. Wulf, much to his annoyance. Harrison Smith, Washington Post, 18 July 2023 Busy caregivers can be brusque, and sometimes, brusque turns to brutal. Sahana Jayaraman,, 27 June 2023 Lynette Rathnam — this production’s ace card as Megha — endows her character’s brusque response with hilarious wariness. Celia Wren, Washington Post, 14 Mar. 2023 The 43-year-old is brusque, a product of his upbringing in Soviet-era Latvia and the seriousness of the subject. Popular Mechanics, 13 June 2023 See More

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

Word History


French brusque, from Italian brusco, from Medieval Latin bruscus butcher's-broom (plant with bristly twigs)

First Known Use

circa 1639, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of brusque was circa 1639


Dictionary Entries Near brusque

Cite this Entry

“Brusque.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


: so short and frank in manner or speech as to be impolite
spoke in a brusque tone
brusquely adverb
brusqueness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on brusque

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