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[brak-uh n]
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  1. a large fern or brake, especially Pteridium aquilinum.
  2. a cluster or thicket of such ferns; an area overgrown with ferns and shrubs.

Origin of bracken

1275–1325; Middle English braken < Scandinavian; compare Swedish bräken fern, Norwegian brake juniper
Related formsbrack·ened, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for bracken

Historical Examples

  • I rung my bell, and desired Mr. Bracken might be sent to me.

    Paul Gosslett's Confessions in Love, Law, and The Civil Service

    Charles James Lever

  • I wiped it with a tuft of bracken, and I laughed with something of a bitterness.

  • Mr. Bracken did not take his hat and mutter that he would be back for dinner.

    Mary Rose of Mifflin

    Frances R. Sterrett

  • I thought I'd have to wait until Mrs. Bracken came home to let me out.

    Mary Rose of Mifflin

    Frances R. Sterrett

  • Mrs. Bracken slipped across the room and put her hand on his arm.

    Mary Rose of Mifflin

    Frances R. Sterrett

British Dictionary definitions for bracken


  1. Also called: brake any of various large coarse ferns, esp Pteridium aquilinum, having large fronds with spore cases along the undersides and extensive underground stems
  2. a clump of any of these ferns

Word Origin

C14: of Scandinavian origin; compare Swedish bräken, Danish bregne
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for bracken


"coarse fern," early 14c., a northern England word from a Scandinavian source (cf. Danish bregne, Swedish bräken "fern").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper