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

  • n. A stiff hair.
  • n. A stiff hairlike structure: the bristles of a wire brush.
  • intransitive v. To stand stiffly on end like bristles: The hair on the dog's neck bristled.
  • intransitive v. To raise the bristles: The cat bristled at the sight of the large dog.
  • intransitive v. To react in an angry or offended manner: The author bristled at the suggestion of plagiarism.
  • intransitive v. To be covered or thick with or as if with bristles: The path bristled with thorns.
  • transitive v. To cause to stand erect like bristles; stiffen.
  • transitive v. To furnish or supply with bristles.
  • transitive v. To make bristly; ruffle.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A stiff or coarse hair.
  • n. The hair or straws that make up a brush, broom, or similar item.
  • n. A humorous misspelling of Bristol, in imitation of the local dialect in the English city of that name,
  • v. To be on one's guard or raise one's defenses; to react with fear, suspicion, or distance.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A short, stiff, coarse hair, as on the back of swine.
  • n. A stiff, sharp, roundish hair.
  • intransitive v. To rise or stand erect, like bristles.
  • intransitive v. To appear as if covered with bristles; to have standing, thick and erect, like bristles.
  • intransitive v. To show defiance or indignation.
  • transitive v. To erect the bristles of; to cause to stand up, as the bristles of an angry hog; -- sometimes with up.
  • transitive v. To fix a bristle to.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To erect the bristles of; erect in anger or defiance, as a hog erects its bristles.
  • To make bristly.
  • To fix a bristle on: as, to bristle a shoemaker's thread.
  • To rise up or stand on end like bristles.
  • To stand erect and close together like bristles.
  • To be covered, as with bristles: as, the ranks bristled with spears. See to bristle with, below.
  • To manifest conspicuously: as, he bristled with excitement.
  • n. One of the stiff, coarse, glossy hairs of certain animals, especially those of the hog kind which are not hairless, large and thickly set along the back, and smaller and more scattered on the sides.
  • n. A similar appendage on some plants; a stiff, sharp hair.
  • n. In dipterous insects of the division Brachycera, the arista or terminal part of the antenna.
  • n. In ornithology, a bristly feather; a feather with a stout stiff stem and little or no web.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. be in a state of movement or action
  • v. react in an offended or angry manner
  • v. rise up as in fear
  • n. a stiff hair
  • v. have or be thickly covered with or as if with bristles
  • n. a stiff fiber (coarse hair or filament); natural or synthetic


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

Middle English bristel, probably from Old English *byrstel, from byrst, bristle.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English bristil, brustel, diminutive of brust, from Old English byrst, from Proto-Germanic *burstiz (compare Dutch borstel, German Borste ‘boar's bristle’, Icelandic burst), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰr̥stís (compare Middle Irish brostaim ‘I goad, spur’, Latin fastīgium ‘top’, Polish barszcz ‘hogweed’).



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