follow Dictionary.com

Love words? Sign up for our Word of the Day!

brier1

[brahy-er] /ˈbraɪ ər/
noun
1.
a prickly plant or shrub, especially the sweetbrier or a greenbrier.
2.
a tangled mass of prickly plants.
3.
a thorny stem or twig.
Also, briar.
Origin
1000
before 1000; Middle English brer, Old English brǣr, brēr; akin to bramble
Related forms
briery, adjective

brier2

[brahy-er] /ˈbraɪ ər/
noun
1.
the white heath, Erica arborea, of France and Corsica, the woody root of which is used for making tobacco pipes.
2.
a pipe made of brierroot.
Also, briar.
Origin
1865-70; earlier bruyer < French bruyère, Old French < Gallo-Latin *brūcāria field of heather, equivalent to *brūc- heather (< Gaulish, perhaps *broiko- (with early L change of oi > ū) < Celtic *wroiko- > Old Irish froech, Welsh grug) + Latin -āria -ary; compare early Medieval Latin brucus, brugaria; see -er2, -ar2

brier3

[brahy-er] /ˈbraɪ ər/
noun, Usually Disparaging.
1.
(chiefly in Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee) a term used to refer to a rustic or hillbilly, especially one from Appalachia.
Also, briar.
Origin
shortening of brier hopper
Usage note
This term is usually used with disparaging intent to refer to those white people who migrated north and west from Southern Appalachia throughout the first half of the 20th century. These migrants, mostly from eastern Kentucky and Tennessee, were looking for jobs in southeastern Ohio and other places. Brier has negative connotations similar to words such as hillbilly and redneck. But brier has also been used as a term of self-reference by the migrants themselves and their descendants. It is a shortened form of brier hopper/brierhopper (also spelled briar hopper/briarhopper), probably a reference to the brier bushes found in Southern Appalachia.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source
British Dictionary definitions for brier

briar1

/ˈbraɪə/
noun
1.
Also called tree heath. an ericaceous shrub, Erica arborea, of S Europe, having a hard woody root (briarroot)
2.
a tobacco pipe made from the root of this plant
Derived Forms
briary, briery, adjective
Word Origin
C19: from French bruyère heath, from Late Latin brūcus, of Gaulish origin

brier1

/ˈbraɪə/
noun
1.
any of various thorny shrubs or other plants, such as the sweetbrier and greenbrier
Derived Forms
briery, briary, adjective
Word Origin
Old English brēr, brǣr, of obscure origin

brier2

/ˈbraɪə/
noun
1.
a variant spelling of briar1
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for brier
n.

"thorny shrub, heath," 1540s, variant of Middle English brere, from Old English brer (Anglian), brær (West Saxon) "brier, bramble, prickly bush," of unknown origin. Briar is the most recent variant (c.1600). Originally used of prickly, thorny bushes in general, now mostly restricted to wild rose bushes. Used figuratively (in plural) for "troubles" from c.1500.

type of tobacco pipe introduced to England c.1859 and made from the root of a certain shrub, 1868, from French bruyère "heath plant," from Old French bruiere "heather, briar, heathland, moor" (12c.), from Gallo-Romance *brucaria, from *brucus "heather," from Gaulish (cf. Breton brug "heath," Old Irish froech). Form altered in English by influence of brier (n.1).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
brier in the Bible

This word occurs frequently, and is the translation of several different terms. (1.) Micah 7:4, it denotes a species of thorn shrub used for hedges. In Prov. 15:19 the word is rendered "thorn" (Heb. _hedek_, "stinging"), supposed by some to be what is called the "apple of Sodom" (q.v.). (2.) Ezek. 28:24, _sallon'_, properly a "prickle," such as is found on the shoots of the palm tree. (3.) Isa. 55:13, probably simply a thorny bush. Some, following the Vulgate Version, regard it as the "nettle." (4.) Isa. 5:6; 7:23-25, etc., frequently used to denote thorny shrubs in general. In 10:17; 27:4, it means troublesome men. (5.) In Heb. 6:8 the Greek word (tribolos) so rendered means "three-pronged," and denotes the land caltrop, a low throny shrub resembling in its spikes the military "crow-foot." Comp. Matt. 7:16, "thistle."

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for brier

Many English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for brier

7
8
Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with brier

Nearby words for brier