- the controlling or guiding mechanism in a computer, robot, pacemaker, etc.
- the part of a computer system for coordination or guidance, as of a missile.
verb (used with object)
Origin of brain
Synonyms for brain
Word Origin for brain
Old English brægen "brain," from Proto-Germanic *bragnam (cf. Middle Low German bregen, Old Frisian and Dutch brein), from PIE root *mregh-m(n)o- "skull, brain" (cf. Greek brekhmos "front part of the skull, top of the head"). But Liberman writes that brain "has no established cognates outside West Germanic ..." and is not connected to the Greek word. More probably, he writes, its etymon is PIE *bhragno "something broken."
The custom of using the plural to refer to the substance (literal or figurative), as opposed to the organ, dates from 16c. Figurative sense of "intellectual power" is from late 14c.; meaning "a clever person" is first recorded 1914. Brain teaser is from 1923. Brain stem first recorded 1879, from German. Brain drain is attested from 1963. An Old English word for "head" was brægnloca, which might be translated as "brain locker." In Middle English, brainsick (Old English brægenseoc) meant "mad, addled."
"to dash the brains out," late 14c., from brain (n.). Related: Brained; braining.
The central organ in the nervous system, protected by the skull. The brain consists of the medulla, which sends signals from the spinal cord to the rest of the brain and also controls the autonomic nervous system; the pons, a mass of nerve fibers connected to the medulla; the cerebellum, which controls balance and coordination; and the cerebrum, the outer layer of which, the cerebral cortex, is the location of memory, sight, speech, and other higher functions.
The cerebrum contains two hemispheres (the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere), each of which controls different functions. In general, the right hemisphere controls the left side of the body and such functions as spatial perception, whereas the left hemisphere controls the right side of the body and functions such as speech.
Under the cerebral cortex are the thalamus, the main relay center between the medulla and the cerebrum; and the hypothalamus, which controls blood pressure, body temperature, hunger, thirst, sex drive, and other visceral functions.
beat one's brains out
Make a great mental effort to understand, solve, or remember something, as in Joe's beating his brains out to finish this puzzle. Christopher Marlowe used this hyperbolic idiom in The Massacre of Paris (1593): “Guise beats his brains to catch us in his trap.” Also see rack one's brains.
In addition to the idioms beginning with brain
- brain drain
- brain someone
- brain trust
- beat one's brains out
- blow one's brains out
- on one's mind (the brain)
- pick someone's brains
- rack one's brains