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bristle

[bris-uh l]
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noun
  1. one of the short, stiff, coarse hairs of certain animals, especially hogs, used extensively in making brushes.
  2. anything resembling these hairs.
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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).
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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.
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Origin of bristle

before 1000; Middle English bristel, equivalent to brist (Old English byrst bristle, cognate with German Borste, Old Norse burst) + -el diminutive suffix
Related formsbris·tle·less, adjectivebris·tle·like, adjectivenon·bris·tled, adjectiveun·bris·tled, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for bristled

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Pete bristled—as much as a fat man could bristle on so hot a day.

    Good Indian

    B. M. Bower

  • She looked at White Fang, who snarled and bristled and glared malevolently.

    White Fang

    Jack London

  • He bristled suspiciously, but the master warned him that all was well.

    White Fang

    Jack London

  • As he bent his head carelessly to smell it, White Fang bristled slightly.

    White Fang

    Jack London

  • As in the past he had bristled and snarled at sight of Lip-lip, so now, and automatically, he bristled and snarled.

    White Fang

    Jack London


British Dictionary definitions for bristled

bristle

noun
  1. any short stiff hair of an animal or plant
  2. something resembling these hairtoothbrush bristle
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verb
  1. (when intr , often foll by up) to stand up or cause to stand up like bristlesthe angry cat's fur bristled
  2. (intr sometimes foll by up) to show anger, indignation, etcshe bristled at the suggestion
  3. (intr) to be thickly covered or setthe target bristled with arrows
  4. (intr) to be in a state of agitation or movementthe office was bristling with activity
  5. (tr) to provide with a bristle or bristles
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Derived Formsbristly, adjective

Word Origin

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

bristle

n.

Old English byrst "bristle," with metathesis of -r-, from Proto-Germanic *bursti- (cf. Middle Dutch borstel, German borste), from PIE *bhrsti- from root *bhars- "point, bristle" (cf. Sanskrit bhrstih "point, spike"). With -el, diminutive suffix.

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bristle

v.

c.1200 (implied in past participle adjective bristled) "set or covered with bristles," from bristle (n.). Meaning "become angry or excited" is 1540s, from the way animals show fight. Related: Bristling.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper