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  1. the loud, harsh cry of a donkey.
  2. any similar loud, harsh sound.
verb (used without object)
  1. to utter a loud and harsh cry, as a donkey.
  2. to make a loud, harsh, disagreeable sound.
verb (used with object)
  1. to utter with a loud, harsh sound, like a donkey.

Origin of bray1

1250–1300; Middle English brayen < Old French braire to cry out (cognate with Medieval Latin bragīre to neigh) < Celtic; compare Old Irish braigid (he) breaks wind
Can be confusedbraid brayed


verb (used with object)
  1. to pound or crush fine, as in a mortar.
  2. Printing. to thin (ink) on a slate before placing on the ink plate of a press.

Origin of bray2

1350–1400; Middle English brayen < Anglo-French bra(i)er, Old French broier < Germanic; see break
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for bray

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • "I guess you'll not bray now," he remarked as he cut the rope.

  • Whether this caused it or not the boys could not tell, but the donkey did not bray after that.

  • He knew that Crews lived in Bray, but he had forgotten the address.

    Changing Winds

    St. John G. Ervine

  • With a rusty sword and a moke on board to bray like the Horse Marines.

  • You may hear their bray in every café, and France is going to the devil.


    Henry Seton Merriman

British Dictionary definitions for bray


  1. (intr) (of a donkey) to utter its characteristic loud harsh sound; heehaw
  2. (intr) to make a similar sound, as in laughinghe brayed at the joke
  3. (tr) to utter with a loud harsh sound
  1. the loud harsh sound uttered by a donkey
  2. a similar loud cry or uproara bray of protest
Derived Formsbrayer, noun

Word Origin

C13: from Old French braire, probably of Celtic origin


  1. (tr) to distribute (ink) over printing type or plates
  2. (tr) to pound into a powder, as in a mortar
  3. Northern English dialect to hit or beat (someone or something) hard; bang
Derived Formsbrayer, noun

Word Origin

C14: from Old French breier of Germanic origin; see break
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 bray


c.1300, from Old French braire "to cry," from Gallo-Romance *bragire "to cry out," perhaps from a Celtic source (cf. Gaelic braigh "to shriek, crackle"), probably imitative. Related: Brayed; braying.


c.1300, from bray (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper