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See more synonyms for brink on Thesaurus.com
  1. the edge or margin of a steep place or of land bordering water.
  2. any extreme edge; verge.
  3. a crucial or critical point, especially of a situation or state beyond which success or catastrophe occurs: We were on the brink of war.
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Origin of brink

1250–1300; Middle English brink < Old Norse (Danish) brink, cognate with MLG brink edge, hillside, Old Norse brekka slope, hill
Related formsbrink·less, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

threshold, fringe, periphery, verge, perimeter, frontier, border, point, skirt, rim, limit, brim, lip, boundary, margin

Examples from the Web for brink

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • It was probably his daughter who led him back from the brink of the grave.

  • It was on the brink of the Barrage itself that I spoke to Bailey.

    It Happened in Egypt

    C. N. Williamson

  • I followed with the others round the corner to arrive at the brink of the canyon.

    American Notes

    Rudyard Kipling

  • Calendar waddled to the brink of the stage, grunting with relief.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • We lightly debate, we hesitate, we yawn, unconscious of the brink.

    Ruggles of Red Gap

    Harry Leon Wilson

British Dictionary definitions for brink


  1. the edge, border, or verge of a steep placethe brink of the precipice
  2. the highest point; topthe sun fell below the brink of the hill
  3. the land at the edge of a body of water
  4. the verge of an event or statethe brink of disaster
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Word Origin

C13: from Middle Dutch brinc, of Germanic origin; compare Old Norse brekka slope, Middle Low German brink edge of a field
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 brink


early 13c., from Middle Low German brink "edge," or Danish brink "steepness, shore, bank, grassy edge," from Proto-Germanic *brenkon, probably from PIE *bhreng-, variant of root *bhren- "project, edge" (cf. Lithuanian brinkti "to swell").

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper