Definitions

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

  • n. The young of herring and similar fish.
  • n. Minute marine organisms, such as crustaceans of the genus Calanus, that are a major source of food for right whales.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To break in pieces; divide.
  • v. To bruise; indent.
  • v. To fall out or shatter (as overripe hops or grain).
  • v. To fade away; alter.
  • n. One of the young of herrings, sprats etc
  • n. One of the tiny crustaceans, of the genus Calanus, that are part of the diet of right whales.
  • n. brit milah

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The young of the common herring; also, a small species of herring; the sprat.
  • n. The minute marine animals (chiefly Entomostraca) upon which the right whales feed.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To break in pieces; divide.
  • To bruise; indent.
  • To fall out or shatter, as overripe hops or grain.
  • To fade away; alter.
  • n. A young herring of the common kind, occurring in large shoals, and formerly classed as a separate species, Clupea minima.
  • n. A general name for animals upon which whales feed, as Clio borealis, etc.; whale-brit.
  • n. An abbreviation of British and Britain.

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

  • n. minute crustaceans forming food for right whales
  • n. a native or inhabitant of Great Britain
  • n. the young of a herring or sprat or similar fish

Etymologies

Perhaps from Cornish brȳthel, mackerel (from Old Cornish breithil, from *breith, speckled) or from Welsh brithyll, trout (from brith, speckled).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English brytten, brutten, from Old English brittian, bryttian ("to divide, dispense, distribute, rule over, possess, enjoy the use of"), from Proto-Germanic *brutjanan (“to break, divide”), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰreud- (“to break”). Cognate with Icelandic brytja ("to chop up, break in pieces, slaughter"), Swedish bryta ("to break, fracture, cut off"), Danish bryde ("to break") and Albanian brydh ("I make crumbly, friable, soft"). Related to Old English brytta ("dispenser, giver, author, governor, prince"), Old English brēotan ("to break in pieces, hew down, demolish, destroy, kill"). (Wiktionary)
Probably from Middle English bret or birt, applied to a different kind of fish. See bret. (Wiktionary)
Short for brit milah. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The other wrong answer: if you were a book, who would most likely read you? students in brit lit I (middle english to 1600)

    Archive 2005-12-01

  • Adler also regards this marriage ceremony, called brit ha-ahuvim (covenant of the loved ones), as appropriate for both heterosexual and same-sex couples.

    Ritual: A Feminist Approach.

  • In the Propontis, as far as I can learn, none of that peculiar substance called brit is to be found, the aliment of the right whale.

    Moby Dick; or the Whale

  • In the Propontis, as far as I can learn, none of that peculiar substance called brit is to be found, the aliment of the Right Whale.

    Moby-Dick, or, The Whale

  • One of those is a commandment called brit milah, which translates as covenant of…

    The Sheaf

  • There is a comment in this blog about the pompous 'brit'; he is incredible...very knowledgeable about food and was able to describe the taste exactly.

    Dinner is served

  • Congregation Bet Haverim in Atlanta has adopted a "brit," or contract, that stipulates the inclusive values of the community.

    undefined

  • As a brit, I have no idea what a binder clip or a butterfly Clip is!

    A better paperclip | clusterflock

  • Sure there are fringe groups of Jews that have always been against brit milah, but 99% of Jews, religious and secular, follow this ancient ritual without question.

    Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater: The Torah, The Constitution, And The 4th Of July

  • As far as I know it's brit-com, but not stiff upper lip-ish ...

    Help me find a movie

Comments

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  • Also see brite.

    January 26, 2012

  • In the Propontis, as far as I can learn, none of that peculiar substance called brit is to be found, the aliment of the right whale.

    - Melville, Moby-Dick, ch. 45

    July 25, 2008