noun (used with a plural verb)
Origin of branks
verb (used without object)
Origin of brank
Examples from the Web for branks
At Oswestry are two branks, one belonging to the Corporation, and the other is in the store-room of the Workhouse.Bygone Punishments|William Andrews
The branks was a species of iron mask, with a gag so contrived as to enter the mouth and forcibly hold down the unruly member.
If that did not stop the rancour of their tongues he tried the effect of an instrument called the "branks."The Life of a Celebrated Buccaneer|Richard Clynton
An uncomfortable bridle which used to be employed to silence scolds was called the branks.The Romance of Words (4th ed.)|Ernest Weekley
The brutality of the stronger and governing to the weaker and subject sex was not limited to the ducking-stool and branks.
Word Origin for branks
1590s, of unknown origin, perhaps from North Sea Germanic. An instrument of punishment for women, originally Scottish, it was a kind of iron cage for the head with a metal bit attached to still the tongue.
Paide for caring a woman throughe the towne for skoulding, with branks, 4d. ["Municipal Accounts of Newcastle," 1595]
"Ungallant, and unmercifully severe, as this species of torture seems to be, Dr. Plot, in his History of Staffordshire, much prefers it to the cucking stool, which, he says, 'not only endangers the health of the party, but also gives the tongue liberty 'twixt every dip.' " [Brockett, "A Glossary of North Country Words,"1829].