"You canker blossom!" 3 Shakespearean Insults


[bris-uh l] /ˈbrɪs əl/
one of the short, stiff, coarse hairs of certain animals, especially hogs, used extensively in making brushes.
anything resembling these hairs.
verb (used without object), bristled, bristling.
to stand or rise stiffly, like bristles.
to erect the bristles, as an irritated animal (often followed by up):
The hog bristled up.
to become rigid with anger or irritation:
The man bristled when I asked him to move.
to be thickly set or filled with something suggestive of bristles:
The plain bristled with bayonets. The project bristled with difficulties.
to be visibly roused or stirred (usually followed by up).
verb (used with object), bristled, bristling.
to erect like bristles:
The rooster bristled his crest.
to furnish with a bristle or bristles.
to make bristly.
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 forms
bristleless, adjective
bristlelike, adjective
nonbristled, adjective
unbristled, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for bristling
  • The door to my right swings open to reveal a large chair bristling with wires and leather straps.
  • Unmanned watchtowers bristling with cameras and heat sensors are being developed.
  • Some evolutionary biologists, though, are bristling at the parasite theory.
  • Another and an opposite gate opened, and displayed a field bristling with stalks and grain of gold.
  • On the wall hung a map bristling with red, blue and yellow pins.
  • Today's generals and admirals want weapons that are smaller, remote-controlled and bristling with intelligence.
  • But he soon began bristling at the constraints of monogamy.
  • He took his place at a lectern bristling with microphones.
  • The tail is not used to throw the spray, as many believe, but is held stiffly erect and bristling.
  • At the tip of the main stem and of each branch is a cylindrical cone bristling with brown spines densely packed in diagonal rows.
British Dictionary definitions for bristling


any short stiff hair of an animal or plant
something resembling these hair: toothbrush bristle
when intr, often foll by up. to stand up or cause to stand up like bristles: the angry cat's fur bristled
(intransitive) sometimes foll by up. to show anger, indignation, etc: she bristled at the suggestion
(intransitive) to be thickly covered or set: the target bristled with arrows
(intransitive) to be in a state of agitation or movement: the office was bristling with activity
(transitive) to provide with a bristle or bristles
Derived Forms
bristly, 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
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Word Origin and History for bristling



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.


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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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