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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.

before 1000; Middle English bristel, equivalent to brist (Old English byrst bristle, cognate with German Borste, Old Norse burst) + -el diminutive suffix

bristleless, adjective
bristlelike, adjective
nonbristled, adjective
unbristled, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
bristle (ˈbrɪsəl)
1.  any short stiff hair of an animal or plant
2.  something resembling these hair: toothbrush bristle
vb (when intr, often foll by up) (sometimes foll by up)
3.  to stand up or cause to stand up like bristles: the angry cat's fur bristled
4.  to show anger, indignation, etc: she bristled at the suggestion
5.  (intr) to be thickly covered or set: the target bristled with arrows
6.  (intr) to be in a state of agitation or movement: the office was bristling with activity
7.  (tr) to provide with a bristle or bristles
[C13 bristil, brustel, from earlier brust, from Old English byrst; related to Old Norse burst, Old High German borst]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. byrst "bristle," with metathesis of -r-, from P.Gmc. *bors- (cf. M.Du. borstel, Ger. borste), from PIE *bhrsti- from base *bhar- "point, bristle" (cf. Skt. bhrstih "point, spike"). With -el, dim. suffix. The verb "become angry or excited" is 1540s, from the way animals show fight. Related: Bristled;
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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