What does bristle mean?

Definitions for bristle
ˈbrɪs əlbris·tle

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word bristle.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. bristlenoun

    a stiff fiber (coarse hair or filament); natural or synthetic

  2. bristleverb

    a stiff hair

  3. abound, burst, bristleverb

    be in a state of movement or action

    "The room abounded with screaming children"; "The garden bristled with toddlers"

  4. bristle, uprise, stand upverb

    rise up as in fear

    "The dog's fur bristled"; "It was a sight to make one's hair uprise!"

  5. bristleverb

    have or be thickly covered with or as if with bristles

    "bristling leaves"

  6. bristleverb

    react in an offended or angry manner

    "He bristled at her suggestion that he should teach her how to use the program"


  1. bristlenoun

    A stiff or coarse hair.

  2. bristlenoun

    The hair or straws that make up a brush, broom, or similar item.

  3. bristlenoun

    A humorous misspelling of Bristol, in imitation of the local dialect in the English city of that name,

  4. bristleverb

    To be on one's guard or raise one's defenses; to react with fear, suspicion, or distance.

    The employees bristled at the prospect of working through the holidays.

  5. Etymology: From bristil, brustel, diminutive of brust, from byrst, from burstiz (compare Dutch borstel, German Borste ‘boar's bristle’, Icelandic burst), from bʰr̥stís (compare Middle Irish brostaim ‘I goad, spur’, Latin fastigium ‘top’, Polish barszcz ‘hogweed’).

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. BRISTLEnoun

    The stiff hair of swine.

    Etymology: bristl, Sax.

    I will not open my lips so wide as a bristle may enter. William Shakespeare.

    He is covered with hair, and not, as the boar, with bristles, which probably spend more upon the same matter which, in other creatures, makes the horns; for bristles seem to be nothing else but a horn split into a multitude of little ones. Nehemiah Grew.

    Two boars whom love to battle draws,
    With rising bristles, and with frothy jaws,
    Their adverse breasts with tusks oblique they wound. Dryd.

  2. To Bristleverb

    To erect in bristles.

    Etymology: from the noun.

    Now for the bare-pickt bone of majesty,
    Doth dogged war bristle his angry crest,
    And snarleth in the gentle eyes of peace. William Shakespeare, K. John.

    Which makes him plume himself, and bristle up
    The crest of youth against your dignity. William Shakespeare, H. IV.

  3. To Bristleverb

    To stand erect as bristles.

    Be it ounce, or cat, or bear,
    Pard, or boar with bristled hair,
    In thy eye that shall appear,
    When thou wak’st, it is thy dear. William Shakespeare, Midsum. N. Dr.

    Stood Theodore surpriz’d in deadly fright,
    With chatt’ring teeth, and bristling hair upright;
    Yet arm’d with inborn worth. John Dryden, Fables.

    Thy hair so bristles with unmanly fears,
    As fields of corn that rise in bearded ears. John Dryden, Persius.


  1. Bristle

    A bristle is a stiff hair or feather (natural or artificial), either on an animal, such as a pig, a plant, or on a tool such as a brush or broom.


  1. bristle

    A bristle is a short, stiff hair or fiber, often on an animal or used in various types of brushes. It can also refer to the act of standing upright or react in an angry or offended manner.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Bristlenoun

    a short, stiff, coarse hair, as on the back of swine

  2. Bristlenoun

    a stiff, sharp, roundish hair

  3. Bristleverb

    to erect the bristles of; to cause to stand up, as the bristles of an angry hog; -- sometimes with up

  4. Bristleverb

    to fix a bristle to; as, to bristle a thread

  5. Bristleverb

    to rise or stand erect, like bristles

  6. Bristleverb

    to appear as if covered with bristles; to have standing, thick and erect, like bristles

  7. Bristleverb

    to show defiance or indignation


  1. Bristle

    A bristle is a stiff hair or feather. Also used are synthetic materials such as nylon in items such as brooms and sweepers. Bristles are often used to make brushes for cleaning uses, as they are strongly abrasive; common examples include the toothbrush and toilet brush. The bristle brush is a common household cleaning tool, often used to remove dirt or grease from pots and pans.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Bristle

    bris′l, n. a short, stiff hair, as of swine.—v.i. to stand erect, as bristles.—v.t. to cover, as with bristles: to make bristly:—pr.p. bris′tling; pa.p. brist′led.—adj. Bristled (bris′ld), furnished with bristles.—n. Brist′liness.—adj. Brist′ly, set with bristles: rough.—To set up one's bristles, to show temper. [A.S. byrst; Scot. birse; cog. with Ger. borste, Ice. burst.]


  1. Bristle

    a stiff hair, usually short and blunt.

Surnames Frequency by Census Records


    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Bristle is ranked #83226 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

    The Bristle surname appeared 226 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 0 would have the surname Bristle.

    96.4% or 218 total occurrences were White.

Matched Categories

Anagrams for bristle »

  1. blister

  2. riblets

How to pronounce bristle?

How to say bristle in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of bristle in Chaldean Numerology is: 2

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of bristle in Pythagorean Numerology is: 4

Examples of bristle in a Sentence

  1. Brendan McPhillips:

    You've got to campaign everywhere and talk to everybody, some progressives bristle at this. I am not suggesting you ignore at all the persuasion work that needs to be done to engage your base, but you can't ignore rural parts of the state when you are running statewide. So, you need to show up.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for bristle

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

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"bristle." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 3 Oct. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/bristle>.

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