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See more synonyms for bristly on Thesaurus.com
adjective, bris·tli·er, bris·tli·est.
  1. covered or rough with bristles.
  2. like or resembling bristles.
  3. easily antagonized; irascible: a bristly person with few friends.
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Origin of bristly

First recorded in 1585–95; bristle + -y1
Related formsbris·tli·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Examples from the Web for bristly

Historical Examples

  • The Major lifted his bristly eyebrows with a contemptuous twitch.

    Henry Dunbar

    M. E. Braddon

  • His head was cropped and bristly, like as if he had a wig made of hair-brushes.

  • A faint flush of shame tinged his bristly cheek at the thought.

  • His moustache was also cut short and bristly over a full, brutal mouth.

    The Prussian Officer

    D. H. Lawrence

  • They were all legs and teeth and bristly fur, the meat almost inedible.

    Space Prison

    Tom Godwin

Word Origin and History for bristly


1590s, from bristle (n.) + -y (2). Figurative sense is recorded from 1872. Related: Bristliness.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper