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briar1

[brahy-er]
See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
noun
  1. brier1.
Related formsbri·ar·y, adjective

briar2

[brahy-er]
noun
  1. brier2.

briar3

[brahy-er]
noun Usually Disparaging.
  1. brier3.

brier1

or bri·ar

[brahy-er]
noun
  1. a prickly plant or shrub, especially the sweetbrier or a greenbrier.
  2. a tangled mass of prickly plants.
  3. a thorny stem or twig.

Origin of brier1

before 1000; Middle English brer, Old English brǣr, brēr; akin to bramble
Related formsbri·er·y, adjective

brier2

or bri·ar

[brahy-er]
noun
  1. the white heath, Erica arborea, of France and Corsica, the woody root of which is used for making tobacco pipes.
  2. a pipe made of brierroot.

Origin of brier2

1865–70; earlier bruyer < French bruyère, Old French < Gallo-Latin *brūcāria field of heather, equivalent to *brūc- heather (< Gaulish, perhaps *broiko- (with early L change of oi > ū) < Celtic *wroiko- > Old Irish froech, Welsh grug) + Latin -āria -ary; compare early Medieval Latin brucus, brugaria; see -er2, -ar2

brier3

or bri·ar

[brahy-er]
noun Usually Disparaging.
  1. (chiefly in Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee) a term used to refer to a rustic or hillbilly, especially one from Appalachia.

Origin of brier3

shortening of brier hopper

Usage note

This term is usually used with disparaging intent to refer to those white people who migrated north and west from Southern Appalachia throughout the first half of the 20th century. These migrants, mostly from eastern Kentucky and Tennessee, were looking for jobs in southeastern Ohio and other places. Brier has negative connotations similar to words such as hillbilly and redneck . But brier has also been used as a term of self-reference by the migrants themselves and their descendants. It is a shortened form of brier hopper/brierhopper (also spelled briar hopper/briarhopper ), probably a reference to the brier bushes found in Southern Appalachia.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for briar

Historical Examples

  • Hips are preferred; at least, the fruit of the briar is the first of the two to disappear.

    Round About a Great Estate

    Richard Jefferies

  • He was yellow with fever, and the hand that filled the briar pipe shook with ague.

    Bones

    Edgar Wallace

  • He followed Sweet Briar River on his way to the meeting of the clans.

    The Later Cave-Men

    Katharine Elizabeth Dopp

  • A briar pipe is made, not from briar, but from the root of heather, Fr.

  • He stared at the bowl of his briar for a moment, then looked up at Cannon.

    Hail to the Chief

    Gordon Randall Garrett


British Dictionary definitions for briar

briar1

brier

noun
  1. Also called: tree heath an ericaceous shrub, Erica arborea, of S Europe, having a hard woody root (briarroot)
  2. a tobacco pipe made from the root of this plant
Derived Formsbriary or briery, adjective

Word Origin

C19: from French bruyère heath, from Late Latin brūcus, of Gaulish origin

briar2

noun
  1. a variant spelling of brier 1

brier1

briar

noun
  1. any of various thorny shrubs or other plants, such as the sweetbrier and greenbrier
Derived Formsbriery or briary, adjective

Word Origin

Old English brēr, brǣr, of obscure origin

brier2

noun
  1. a variant spelling of briar 1
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 briar

n.

see brier (n.1).

brier

n.1

"thorny shrub, heath," 1540s, variant of Middle English brere, from Old English brer (Anglian), brær (West Saxon) "brier, bramble, prickly bush," of unknown origin. Briar is the most recent variant (c.1600). Originally used of prickly, thorny bushes in general, now mostly restricted to wild rose bushes. Used figuratively (in plural) for "troubles" from c.1500.

brier

n.2

type of tobacco pipe introduced to England c.1859 and made from the root of a certain shrub, 1868, from French bruyère "heath plant," from Old French bruiere "heather, briar, heathland, moor" (12c.), from Gallo-Romance *brucaria, from *brucus "heather," from Gaulish (cf. Breton brug "heath," Old Irish froech). Form altered in English by influence of brier (n.1).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper