a. The upper edge of a steep or vertical slope: the brink of a cliff. See Synonyms at border.
b. The margin of land bordering a body of water.
2. The point at which something is likely to begin; the verge: "Time and again the monarchs and statesmen of Europe approached the brink of conflict" (W. Bruce Lincoln).
[Middle English brinke, probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Swedish brink brink, steep hillside, steep riverbank, and Middle Low German brink, hillside, grassland.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.