Definitions

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

  • n. A device consisting of a metal frame for the head and a bit to restrain the tongue, formerly used to punish scolds. Usually used in the plural.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A metal bridle formerly used as a torture device to hold the head of a scold and restrain the tongue
  • v. To put someone in the branks
  • v. To hold up and toss the head; applied to horses as spurning the bit.
  • v. To prance; to caper.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Buckwheat.
  • n. A sort of bridle with wooden side pieces.
  • n. A scolding bridle, an instrument formerly used for correcting scolding women. It was an iron frame surrounding the head and having a triangular piece entering the mouth of the scold.
  • intransitive v. To hold up and toss the head; -- applied to horses as spurning the bit.
  • intransitive v. To prance; to caper.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To make a show or fine appearance; parnk.
  • To hold up the head affectedly.
  • n. Buckwheat.
  • n. Confusion.
  • n. A kind of dance.
  • n. See branks.

Etymologies

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

Possibly from Dutch branken, legs (of a compass, scissors, etc.), pl. of branke, branch, from Late Latin branca, paw; see branch.

Examples

  • The work's title, Brank & Heckle, refers to a brank, a 16th-century iron muzzle used to silence women offenders, and hecklers, first thought to refer to 19th-century Dundee mill workers who, while heckling combing out flax would, like the artist, give surreptitious voice to dissent.

    This week's new exhibitions

  • It was called the brank or scold's bridle, and probably came to us from

    Vanishing England

  • An instrument of punishment formerly much used in England, but never, we think, introduced into this country, called the "brank," or "scold's bridle," or "gossip's bridle," is thus described by Mr.L. Jewitt,

    The Olden Time Series, Vol. 5: Some Strange and Curious Punishments Gleanings Chiefly from Old Newspapers of Boston and Salem, Massachusetts

  • And, speaking of contempt, there is no restoring the reputation of an administration that has scrupulously sought to sabotage the Bill of Rights, and Geneva, as well as destroy evidence of what can only be called war crimes by U.S. military personnel, acts of torture that were not merely approved, but orchestrated, by the executive brank, as this latest report from the bipartisan Senate Armed Services Committee establishes.

    Jayne Lyn Stahl: Bush: On the Line

  • At one time, diabolical machines were devised for torture: from the brank, the brazen bull, and the breaking wheel to the heretic's fork, the instep borer and the iron maiden.

    Russ Wellen: What Is It with Men and Torture?

  • "He that would know the operation of the herbs must look up to the stars astrologically," says this master; and so to him briony is "a furious martial plant," and brank ursine "an excellent plant under the dominion of the moon."

    Apologia Diffidentis

  • A brank certainly in one recorded case cured a woman from coarse invective and abuse.

    Vanishing England

  • Frane and Spain were upon the brank of open war when Philip arrived in England.

    The Great Events by Famous Historians, Volume 10

  • Down below, a mass of brank-ursine formed as it were a pedestal, from the midst of which sprang scarlet geum, rhodanthe with stiff petals, and clarkia with great white carved crosses, that looked like the insignia of some barbarous order.

    La faute de l'Abbe Mouret

  • Dr. Henry Heginbotham, of Stockport, England, says in speaking of the brank preserved in that town: "There is no evidence of its having been actually used for many years; but there is testimony to the fact that within the last forty years the brank was brought to a termagant market-woman, who was effectually silenced by its threatened application."

    The Olden Time Series, Vol. 5: Some Strange and Curious Punishments Gleanings Chiefly from Old Newspapers of Boston and Salem, Massachusetts

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  • Yuck.

    October 23, 2012

  • Buck wheat, called in some counties crap --definition from Grose's A Provincial Glossary. Term recorded in England's Essex, Suffolk, and Norfolk counties.

    May 4, 2011