1. A stiff hair.
2. A stiff hairlike structure: the bristles of a wire brush.
v. bris·tled, bris·tling, bris·tles
1. To stand stiffly on end like bristles: The hair on the dog's neck bristled.
2. To raise the bristles: The cat bristled at the sight of the large dog.
3. To react in an angry or offended manner: The author bristled at the suggestion of plagiarism.
4. To be covered or thick with or as if with bristles: The path bristled with thorns.
1. To cause to stand erect like bristles; stiffen.
2. To furnish or supply with bristles.
3. To make bristly; ruffle.
[Middle English bristel, probably from Old English *byrstel, from byrst, bristle.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. 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.