from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun An implement typically consisting of bristles fastened into a handle, used in scrubbing, polishing, grooming, or applying a liquid.
  • noun The act of using this implement.
  • noun A sweeping stroke of the hand, as in removing something.
  • noun A light touch in passing; a graze.
  • noun An instance of contact with something undesirable or dangerous.
  • noun A bushy tail.
  • noun A sliding connection completing a circuit between a fixed and a moving conductor.
  • noun A snub; a brushoff.
  • intransitive verb To clean, polish, or groom with a brush.
  • intransitive verb To apply with a brush.
  • intransitive verb To remove with a brush or with sweeping strokes.
  • intransitive verb To dismiss abruptly or curtly.
  • intransitive verb To touch lightly in passing; graze against.
  • intransitive verb To use a brush.
  • intransitive verb To make sweeping strokes with the hand.
  • intransitive verb To touch something lightly in moving past.
  • noun Dense vegetation consisting of shrubs or small trees.
  • noun Land covered by such a growth.
  • noun Cut or broken branches.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • In mining, to remove, by blasting or otherwise, rock from (the floor or roof of a level or roadway) to increase its height.
  • To sweep or rub with a brush: as, to brush a hat.
  • To remove by brushing or by lightly passing over: as, to brush off dust.
  • To sweep or touch as with a brush; strike lightly bypassing over the surface; pass lightly over: as, to brush the arm in passing.
  • Figuratively, to ruffle; excite.
  • To furnish with brushes or branches of dead trees to climb on:
  • To move quickly or in haste; rush: as, to brush past a person.
  • To move or skim over with a slight contact, as a brush.
  • noun One of the ends of the stationary circuit of an electric machine which receive the current from or supply it to the revolving circuit: so called because they had formerly a brush-like structure.
  • noun The hair on the upper end of a grain of wheat. It furnishes a distinction between varieties.
  • noun a gilder's brush of brass wire used for spreading gilding and for cleaning metal surfaces
  • noun a brush made with iron wires used for street-sweeping
  • noun a carding brush; etc.
  • noun The small trees and shrubs of a wood; a thicket of small trees; scrub.
  • noun Branches of trees lopped off; brushwood: a sense common in the United States.
  • noun A tract of country covered by thickets; hence, a thinly settled country; the backwoods.
  • noun An instrument of various forms, according to its intended use, consisting of a quantity of some flexible material attached to a handle or stock.
  • noun Anything resem bling a brush, as the tails of some animals, as the fox, or the panicles of broom-corn used in the manufacture of brooms.
  • noun An agricultural instrument made of small trees, as the birch, and used instead of a harrow for covering grain, grass-seed, etc., after they have been sown.
  • noun In dynamo-electric machines (which see, under electric), one of the bundles of copper wires or plates which are in contact with the commutator of the armature on opposite sides, and serve to take off the positive and negative currents of electricity generated.
  • noun In electricity, the luminous phenomenon, consisting of diverging rays of pale-blue light, observed when the discharge of an electric machine takes place into the air from a small ball or rounded point.
  • noun [From the verb.] A passage; especially, a quick ride through the brush or across country; a chase.
  • noun A skirmish; a slight encounter; a shock; a collision: as, to have a brush with the enemy.
  • noun An application of a brush, as in sweeping or dusting; a brushing; a removal as if with a brush: as, give my hat a brush.
  • noun painter; one who uses a brush: as, a brother brush.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English brusshe, from Old French brosse, brushwood, brush; see brush.]

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English brushe, from Old French brosse, brushwood, from Vulgar Latin *bruscia, perhaps from Latin bruscum, knot on a maple.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English brusshe, from Old French broisse (compare Modern French brosse) from Vulgar Latin *bruscia from Proto-Germanic *bruskaz (“underbrush”), from Proto-Indo-European *bhreus- (“to swell, sprout”). Akin to Middle High German bürste ("brush"), Old English byrst ("bristle"), Middle High German broz ("a bud, shoot"), Old English brēost ("breast"), Proto-Slavic *bъrščь (“hogweed”).


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word brush.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.