bristle

1 of 2

noun

bris·​tle ˈbri-səl How to pronounce bristle (audio)
: a short stiff coarse hair or filament
hog bristles
short bristle paint brushes
bristlelike adjective

bristle

2 of 2

verb

bristled; bristling ˈbris-liŋ How to pronounce bristle (audio)
ˈbri-sə-

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

1
a
: 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
3
a
: 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

Example Sentences

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
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Townsend likes to spray a tiny bit of hairspray on a (clean, obviously) natural-bristle toothbrush and use it to smooth down flyaways. Allure, 3 Nov. 2022 Sets of bristle brushes multiple feet in length cover the overlap to help stop wind and rain. Tim Newcomb, Popular Mechanics, 29 Aug. 2022 Rounding out its impressive list of features are a dual bristle brush and a soft brush roll to deep-clean carpets and give bare floors a polished look. Jodhaira Rodriguez, Good Housekeeping, 27 Oct. 2022 The Oxy Urine Eliminator Formula takes on tough pet odors, too, while the eight-row bristle brush gets deep into carpet fibers. Barbara Bellesi Zito, Better Homes & Gardens, 21 Oct. 2022 Depending on your skin's tolerance level, dry brushing with a soft, medium, or stiff bristle brush and firm pressure can help slough off dead skin cells while encouraging lymphatic drainage. Tiffany Dodson, Harper's BAZAAR, 30 Sep. 2022 Luckily, there are several varieties on the market to choose from—ranging from paddle and vent brushes to detanglers and boar bristle options—that'll suit your specific haircare needs. Sophie Dweck, Town & Country, 13 Sep. 2022 Even the more minor titles in his filmography bristle with invention. Adam Nayman, The New Yorker, 28 Aug. 2022 One brush is stiffer to target carpets, while a softer brush head contains an antistatic carbon fiber bristle for hard floors including wood and tiles. Nicol Natale, Peoplemag, 12 Aug. 2022
Verb
Television presented a lot for audiences to potentially latch onto; the Emmys seemed, at every turn, to bristle. Daniel D'addario, Variety, 12 Sep. 2022 Sarver, according to reports, had the gall to bristle at the punishment. Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY, 14 Sep. 2022 Die-hard Tolkienists may bristle at the idea of the show condensing so much history, but layering the action this way is undeniably effective when building a television show. Caroline Framke, Variety, 31 Aug. 2022 Brits understandably bristle when Americans make sweeping generalizations about their food, their politics, and the safety of their cities. Yasmeen Serhan, The Atlantic, 4 July 2022 Of course, VCs on continental Europe may bristle when hearing about a New Palo Alto centered around London train stations. Kevin Kelleher, Fortune, 27 June 2022 First, Erik Spoelstra would bristle at the notion of terming Duncan Robinson’s shift to the second team as a demotion. Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel, 27 Apr. 2022 That is where people bristle… being told something is for them. Rebecca Rubin, Variety, 3 June 2022 The personable presence behind Setsunai Noodles might bristle at the formal title chef. Leslie Kelly, Forbes, 17 May 2022 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Verb

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near bristle

Cite this Entry

“Bristle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bristle. Accessed 28 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

bristle 1 of 2

noun

bris·​tle ˈbris-əl How to pronounce bristle (audio)
: a short stiff hair or something like a hair
bristled
-əld
adjective
bristly
-(ə-)lē
adjective

bristle

2 of 2

verb

bristled; bristling -(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce bristle (audio)
1
: to rise up and stiffen like bristles
makes your hair bristle
quills bristling in all directions
2
: to show signs of anger
bristled at the insult
3
: to appear as if covered with bristles
a harbor bristling with the masts of ships
bristly
-(ə-)lē
adjective

Medical Definition

bristle

noun

bris·​tle ˈbris-əl How to pronounce bristle (audio)
: a short stiff coarse hair or filament

More from Merriam-Webster on bristle

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