View synonyms for bristle


[ bris-uhl ]


  1. one of the short, stiff, coarse hairs of certain animals, especially hogs, used extensively in making brushes.
  2. anything resembling these hairs.

verb (used without object)

, bris·tled, bris·tling.
  1. to stand or rise stiffly, like bristles.
  2. to erect the bristles, as an irritated animal (often followed by up ):

    The hog bristled up.

  3. to become rigid with anger or irritation:

    The man bristled when I asked him to move.

  4. to be thickly set or filled with something suggestive of bristles:

    The plain bristled with bayonets. The project bristled with difficulties.

  5. to be visibly roused or stirred (usually followed by up ).

verb (used with object)

, bris·tled, bris·tling.
  1. to erect like bristles:

    The rooster bristled his crest.

  2. to furnish with a bristle or bristles.
  3. to make bristly.


/ ˈbrɪsəl /


  1. any short stiff hair of an animal or plant
  2. something resembling these hair

    toothbrush bristle


  1. whenintr, often foll by up to stand up or cause to stand up like bristles

    the angry cat's fur bristled

  2. intrsometimes foll byup to show anger, indignation, etc

    she bristled at the suggestion

  3. intr to be thickly covered or set

    the target bristled with arrows

  4. intr to be in a state of agitation or movement

    the office was bristling with activity

  5. tr to provide with a bristle or bristles

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Derived Forms

  • ˈbristly, adjective

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Other Words From

  • bristle·less adjective
  • bristle·like adjective
  • non·bristled adjective
  • un·bristled adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of bristle1

before 1000; Middle English bristel, equivalent to brist ( Old English byrst bristle, cognate with German Borste, Old Norse burst ) + -el diminutive suffix

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Word History and Origins

Origin of bristle1

C13 bristil , brustel , from earlier brust , from Old English byrst ; related to Old Norse burst , Old High German borst

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Example Sentences

To protect delicate hardwood, look for a model that lets you turn off the brush or has specially designed soft bristles.

Those tiny wire bristles can break off, stick onto the grill, and wind up in your food, which winds up in your body, which winds up in the hospital.

Scrub the outside of the shoes thoroughly, taking care to get the bristles into fabric sections to clear dirt out of the mesh.

Her bristles about the press and her image don’t always lack merit.

From Time

This Bissell carpet cleaner has a powerbrush that has ten rows of bristles designed to loosen dirt and odors in combination with a cleaning solution, before sucking them into a waste tank.

Americans tend to bristle even at self-censorship; we are reluctant to declare that we simply are not going to look at something.

And they bristle too at the notion that they had some kind of personal enmity toward the president.

She continued to bristle at being associated with the Mafia because of her father.

Her woefully neglected novels still bristle with wit and insight.

While a normal person would bristle at such obvious red flags, our girls ran like bulls towards love.

Even the roofs of the houses bristle with pigeon-lofts and artful-looking structures for the capture of wandering birds.

To whom the prophetess, seeing his neck now bristle with horrid snakes, flings a soporific cake of honey and medicated grain.

De time wuz w'en folks had a mighty slim chance fer ter git bristle, en dey aint no tellin' w'en dat time gwine come ag'in.

His mask is brown, cut off above the upper lip, over which a pair of short moustachios bristle.

In crescent formation the dense black cloud swept on—in dead silence—a phalanx of shields, a perfect bristle of assegais.


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