- one of the short, stiff, coarse hairs of certain animals, especially hogs, used extensively in making brushes.
- anything resembling these hairs.
- to stand or rise stiffly, like bristles.
- to erect the bristles, as an irritated animal (often followed by up): The hog bristled up.
- to become rigid with anger or irritation: The man bristled when I asked him to move.
- to be thickly set or filled with something suggestive of bristles: The plain bristled with bayonets. The project bristled with difficulties.
- to be visibly roused or stirred (usually followed by up).
- to erect like bristles: The rooster bristled his crest.
- to furnish with a bristle or bristles.
- to make bristly.
Origin of bristle
Examples from the Web for bristling
Security guards stand about, bristling with straps and guns and billy clubs.Adam Hochschild on Keeping Company With His Dying Father
June 14, 2014
The National Rifle Association was always there bristling on the barricades of opposition.For Obama, Romney, and America, Gun Control Is Dead
July 24, 2012
Mike Huckabee says she “glamorizes” out-of-wedlock pregnancy and critics are bristling over her starry-eyed view of motherhood.Everybody Hates Natalie
Joyce C. Tang
March 6, 2011
We could see the shafts of the darts fast in the cleft, bristling in the moonlight.The Trail Book
"See you in Guinea first," muttered Bandy-legs, bristling up.With Trapper Jim in the North Woods
Lawrence J. Leslie
Ah, that beautiful and mysterious shore, all bristling with rocks!My Double Life
Slowly, slowly, the bristling ball straightened out and lengthened.
He faced the boy, bristling and snarling, his sense of justice outraged.
- any short stiff hair of an animal or plant
- something resembling these hairtoothbrush bristle
- (when intr , often foll by up) to stand up or cause to stand up like bristlesthe angry cat's fur bristled
- (intr sometimes foll by up) to show anger, indignation, etcshe bristled at the suggestion
- (intr) to be thickly covered or setthe target bristled with arrows
- (intr) to be in a state of agitation or movementthe office was bristling with activity
- (tr) to provide with a bristle or bristles
Word Origin and History for bristling
Old English byrst "bristle," with metathesis of -r-, from Proto-Germanic *bursti- (cf. Middle Dutch borstel, German borste), from PIE *bhrsti- from root *bhars- "point, bristle" (cf. Sanskrit bhrstih "point, spike"). With -el, diminutive suffix.
c.1200 (implied in past participle adjective bristled) "set or covered with bristles," from bristle (n.). Meaning "become angry or excited" is 1540s, from the way animals show fight. Related: Bristling.