- Sometimes brank. a device consisting of a headpiece with a flat, iron bit to restrain the tongue, formerly used to punish scolds.
Origin of branks
- to hold up and toss the head, as a horse when spurning the bit or prancing.
- to bridle; restrain.
Origin of brank
Examples from the Web for branks
A man and his wife were ordered to stand at the Kirk-style with the branks in their mouths.
It belongs to a class of engines far more formidable than branks.
They'll need to stand on a baikie that put the branks on him.The House with the Green Shutters
George Douglas Brown
The horse had neither saddle nor bridle, but only a branks (or halter) about its head.The Lyon in Mourning, Vol. 1
Who has not heard of the Langholm witches, and the branks to subdue them?Woman, Church & State
Matilda Joslyn Gage
- (formerly) an iron bridle used to restrain scolding women
Word Origin and History 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].