Definition of brain in English:



  • 1An organ of soft nervous tissue contained in the skull of vertebrates, functioning as the coordinating centre of sensation and intellectual and nervous activity.

    [as modifier] ‘a brain tumour’
    • ‘Each individual radiation beam is too weak to harm the brain tissue it passes through.’
    • ‘Primary brain tumours may arise from several different kinds of tissue.’
    • ‘When this occurs, the swollen brain tissue will push the other contents of the skull to the side.’
    • ‘Scientists have identified a gene variation that sparks heightened activity in our brain's fear centre.’
    • ‘The movements your muscles make are coordinated and controlled by the brain and nervous system.’
    • ‘The tumor was located in the pineal gland and was well demarcated from the surrounding brain tissue, especially from the cerebellum.’
    • ‘Fish are vertebrates, with a brain, a central nervous system and pain receptors all over their bodies, including the lips.’
    • ‘Once in a child's bloodstream the lead travels to the brain, soft tissue and bones.’
    • ‘Stem cells are harvested from bone marrow, umbilical cords, the brain and spinal cord and other tissues.’
    • ‘Nervous tissues such as the brain, spinal cord and ganglia seemed to be the main sites of viral replication.’
    • ‘They also learned various ways to identify the diseased brain tissue that causes seizures.’
    • ‘It is a precious tissue like the nervous tissue of the brain, spinal cord and heart muscle, as it cannot heal like the other tissues.’
    • ‘Surgeons must now carry out a strict assessment before patients undergo surgical procedures on tissues such as the brain, spinal cord, eye, spleen and tonsils.’
    • ‘This occurs as a result of damage to soft brain tissue when the brain rattles against the skull.’
    • ‘In multiple sclerosis, the immune system attacks the brain and nervous system.’
    • ‘This can change the activity of certain nerve cells and influence brain activity.’
    • ‘More possibilities lie ahead for heart patches and repair of the dura mater tissue that protects the brain and spinal cord.’
    • ‘This may result in a blockage of the cerebrospinal fluid, the fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord.’
    • ‘This edema affects many organs, including the brain, kidneys, liver, and lungs.’
    • ‘Moreover, while dressing game, hunters expose themselves to the most infectious tissues, the brain and spinal cord.’
    cerebrum, cerebral matter
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    1. 1.1The substance of an animal's brain used as food.
      • ‘The cutlet-size veal cheeks and tongue and a fist of brains were simmered in stock with vegetables.’
      • ‘Battali has been dishing brains, tripe, and ravioli stuffed with veal cheek for a couple of years.’
      • ‘It was also at the River Cafe, after graduating in liver appreciation, that I went on to discover the pleasures of sweetbreads, kidneys, tongues and brains.’
      • ‘Crispy sauteed brains sold like hotcakes as a first course at Bistro Felix in SoHo.’
      • ‘Imagine the explaining I had to do when I brought David Milne home from school, only to find two sheep's brains on the table - remnants of my dad's lunch.’
      • ‘Feeding herbivores scientifically patented diets of ground sheep and beef meat, brains, and minced bone meal, is absolutely insane.’
      • ‘The Bochka serves pigs roasted on a spit, veal brains with mushrooms in a pot, and grilled salmon.’
      • ‘One verb applies to mushy, gelatinous, overripe, and overcooked things, of which brains, bananas, and avocados might be examples.’
      • ‘The ravioli lies flaccidly at the top of the plate; beneath it, in a mockingly straight line, are the four rabbit brains… Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter.’
      • ‘Lightly flour the calves' brains and sauté until light brown.’
      • ‘I'd say ‘sure’ and Billy would come in shortly afterwards and order the calf's brains.’
      • ‘There was a mixed dish of kidneys, brains and something else on the menu, so we asked the waiter what it was.’
      • ‘This anticipates a love of chitterlings, grilled pig's ears, marrow bones, stuffed trotters, kidneys and brains.’
      • ‘What Rosa sells is sheep's heads, brains, intestines, stomach linings, pig's feet, and big, white, oval, veined bulls' testicles.’
      • ‘These conditions are not always met - otherwise good brains are often discoloured by blood clots.’
      • ‘But brains from younger animals will still be considered fit for human consumption.’
      • ‘Thankfully, they were the brains of little lambs or baby calves, rather than the full Lecter smorgasbord, but even so, it was revolting to find as you rooted around for the milk first thing in the morning.’
      • ‘Well, some people eat dogs and monkey brains and you might think that's disgusting… so stop trying to convince me to try black licorice.’
      • ‘It traditionally contains sweetbreads, brains, porcini mushrooms and chicken livers.’
      • ‘When he and mum looked at them they found many of her old staples - not pig brains, admittedly - there in the ‘healthy’ columns.’
    2. 1.2informal An electronic device with functions comparable to those of the human brain.
      ‘an electronic brain’
      • ‘That shutter speed that the electronic brain says is incorrect, might just give you a wonderful emotive blurry shot that is an award winner!’
      • ‘All it takes to turn these pieces into a robot is packaging the brains and the senses atop a mobile platform and stirring in some clever code.’
      • ‘The Brain - The brain of a search engine, like the human brain, is the most complex of its functions and components.’
      • ‘TI is the No. 1 seller of chips for cell phones, supplying the brains of the snazziest multimedia models in the market.’
      • ‘An advanced robotics technology is developed in the early 2050's, allowing for robotic brains with the capacity to learn.’
      • ‘If a light shines on it, the brain sends out an electronic pulse.’
      • ‘Another area where the electronic brain is clueless is when you want to take tricky shots using the flash.’
      • ‘The accompaniment to his poetry came directly from the electronic brain of his keyboard.’
      • ‘Soon electronic brains would replace most of the accounting department, the typing pool, and the switchboard.’
      • ‘It was not a straight line course either; the unmanned vehicles had to use their computer brains and sensing devices to follow a programmed route and avoid hitting obstacles.’
      • ‘A 2005 model of a Brilliant Pebble would be smaller and have a better electronic brain than the 1993 one.’
      • ‘For once, Harry Flashman is happy to let the electronic brain do its thing (but without the flash).’
      • ‘The only remnants of the human race are in the microchip brain of a robot.’
  • 2Intellectual capacity.

    ‘I didn't have enough brains for the sciences’
    [mass noun] ‘success requires brain as well as brawn’
    • ‘With beauty, brains and talent, Padma Lakshmi - aka Mrs Salman Rushdie - hardly needs to find the way to a man's heart through his stomach.’
    • ‘Thankfully, the mother had brains enough to send her away again.’
    • ‘She has the brains to be at any school, anywhere.’
    • ‘How often had I heard talk of superstitious idiots, often relatives, who worshipped a God they didn't have the brains to doubt?’
    • ‘That's because actually, feminists think men should be treated as fully functional human beings with brains and morals who should be held responsible for the choices they make.’
    • ‘If the person were really dynamic and had the brains, they could even swing themselves into a management position at some point.’
    • ‘I'm Dave Winer without the brains and the money.’
    • ‘Happiness is not enough; brains are not enough; goodness will get you by, but without the other two it's a shield made of straw.’
    • ‘It believe it is nonsensical and that God gave us the brains to know right from wrong.’
    • ‘Not only has the 19 year old UCD student got the looks, the brains, and the personality but she's also got one of the world's top selling singers as a father.’
    • ‘You have the brains of the average eight-year-old.’
    • ‘After all, it's not likely to be particularly taxing on the brain and I quite like the idea of getting paid when I'm not at my most alert.’
    • ‘Even if he didn't he would have learnt his lesson, assuming he had the brains to understand what it all meant.’
    • ‘I mean, lord have mercy, I wouldn't even begin to tax my brain trying to think I had to stay in style.’
    • ‘I don't want to tax my brain too much.’
    • ‘I think we are also given enough-it goes with the whole thing of what God has given us as far as our brains and our mental capacity goes.’
    • ‘They have the brains to match their beauty and are out to prove that they are more than just pretty faces when they are joined by 32 others vying for the title in Bournemouth.’
    • ‘It is an interesting game that won't exactly tax the brain but feeds the public even more of the voyeuristic TV is so obviously craves!’
    • ‘Vultures don't have the brains to know how to cut a rope.’
    • ‘Take your damn ideas, training, brains, and intelligence, all the things we're paying you for, and shove it.’
    intelligence, intellect, intellectual capacity, mental capacity, brainpower, cleverness, wit, wits, powers of reasoning, reasoning, wisdom, sagacity, acumen, discernment, shrewdness, judgement, understanding, common sense, sense
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    1. 2.1informal A clever person who supplies the ideas and plans for a group of people.
      ‘Tom was the brains of the outfit’
      • ‘It wasn't like he was the brains of the operation, but he was a figure to be reckoned with.’
      • ‘The progressives have the brains and the moral highroad.’
      • ‘As Toti remarks with a pinch of irony: ‘Nell's the brains, I'm the brawn.’’
      • ‘It seems that Campbell may have been the brawn and the brains of their outfit.’
      • ‘Morgan, an apparently irascible old codger, is quite literally the brains of the outfit.’
      • ‘While Pita may have the brains, lets hope he has a good team that guides him in the political gamesmanship he will face.’
      • ‘Ansett liberated them from the old firm and set them up in KordaMentha (putting the brains of the outfit up front there).’
      • ‘Catherine Ring was the brains behind The Newspaper Headlines from the past.’
      • ‘It's time to ask Tommy Champion, the brains and energy behind this event some questions.’
      • ‘Could this be the big mo for Ben, Mena and Anil, the brains and the energy behind Typepad and Movable Type?’
      • ‘‘Genie’ Dukkha was the leader; the brains of an outfit which admittedly could hardly be mistaken for Mensa.’
      • ‘Paldawar was the brains of this outfit, not Dain.’
      • ‘I suspected that she was the brains of the outfit.’
      • ‘Westwood and McLaren were viewed differently - he as the brains and she the workhorse.’
      • ‘Gale was the brains of the group - the only one with at least half a brain and the mind to use it.’
      clever person, intellectual, intellect, bluestocking, thinker, highbrow, mind, scholar, sage
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    2. 2.2A person's mind.
      ‘a tiny alarm bell began to ring in her brain’
      • ‘A painful piece of memory flashed through her brain and gave her extra strength.’
      • ‘Wouldn't that exercise the brains of our kids more?’
      • ‘This show programmed a seasonal habit into the brains of my siblings and myself.’
      • ‘If you don't have time to read the whole thing, the summary at the beginning should be enough to get your brain working a little bit.’
      • ‘But soon enough your brain starts to run out of gas - opinions, ideas, plans start to float away.’
      • ‘It could be the tests weren't hard enough for the female brain, he said.’
      • ‘That connection happens in two places: on the board, and in the brains of the participants.’
      • ‘It's enough to rot the brain were it not for its sheer entertainment value.’
      • ‘Some part of my brain was sane enough to understand that the others would arrive with a straightjacket if they heard me talk to empty space.’
      • ‘Sometimes though, the tracks are actually too boring and don't do nearly enough to get the brain working.’
      • ‘I buy expensive creams to put on my skin, even though my science brain knows they don't achieve much.’
      • ‘I simply couldn't grasp this idea with my mind, especially with my brain rattled up enough as it was.’
      • ‘It'll be interesting to see where fresh brains take this idea.’
      • ‘John / Halcyon stuck a mental tag in the folds of my brain: optimism tax.’
      • ‘Oddly though, once my brain internalized my surroundings as a surreal stage setting, removed from what would be normally acceptable to my senses, I felt at ease.’
      • ‘Every once in a while, my brain would clear enough to do some mindless chore, like fill the water pots or fold the blankets, but otherwise, I felt numb.’
      • ‘If your brain is working well enough for you to get a good, uh, score on this quiz, it means the stuff isn't working.’
      • ‘The memories flooded into his brain as though they had always been there.’
      • ‘I'll do the wracking of the brains to think of something new to write each time.’
      • ‘We are usually such a perceptive people, I suppose histrionics really numbs the brains and being superheroes is something no one can resist.’
      aptitude, knack, flair, bent, talent, gift, skill, art, trick, faculty, ability, propensity, inclination
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[WITH OBJECT]informal
  • Hit (someone) hard on the head with an object.

    ‘she brained me with a rolling pin’
    • ‘Girls that like braining other girls with lacrosse sticks?’
    • ‘Say the child found the kitchen and brained him/herself with a toaster by pulling on the cord.’
    • ‘My mother had once made me take ballet lessons until I'd brained the teacher with one of my slippers.’
    • ‘A metal bucket fell from the sky, braining the nearest bug.’
    • ‘You don't brain the guy so you can steal the pipe.’
    • ‘I really thought he was going to brain me with his mighty fist.’
    • ‘When you're single it's almost preferable to be unhappy in a crowd - at home, ‘human contact’ consists of bumping into the bookcase and getting brained by a falling volume of Tolstoi.’
    • ‘That's when I stopped what I was doing, got out of bed and brained the one in the red pyjamas with my alarm clock.’
    • ‘In these streets he met Anitus, the king of the country, and brained him with his club, which was the fashion among gentlemen in those days.’
    • ‘In the Old Testament, two teenagers can't live together without one braining the other.’
    • ‘Chairs had long ago been removed when one of the (now former) owners had been brained with one in the middle of one of Hvit's constant brawls.’
    • ‘My old man had nearly brained himself trying to install the heavy rope on the limb of an old box elder.’
    • ‘He then jumped into the crater with a knobkerrie and had brained another of the enemy when he was himself struck through the shoulder by a bayonet.’
    • ‘As he burst in the door, Mrs. Luthor nearly brained him with the poker from the fireplace.’
    • ‘And in the morning when I looked at him, I asked what he was in for, it seemed that he'd brained his superior officer with a rifle butt.’
    • ‘Thanks also to the projectionist for switching off his radio before someone got up to brain him.’
    • ‘I swear, if she didn't give it up soon I was going to brain her with the nearest object to hand.’
    • ‘You just had a mother, who home schooled her kids, sent to the loonie bin after she brained two of them.’
    • ‘Somehow or another all concerned manage to avoid braining each other with guitars, mic stands and various other musical impedimenta.’
    • ‘You could brain someone with this book: practically a cube, and over 1,000 pages, it could really do some damage.’


  • have (got) something on the brain

    • informal Be obsessed with something.

      ‘John has cars on the brain’
      • ‘Peers and MPs had trains on the brain this week: the beloved Flying Scotsman, its clapped-out modern day equivalents which are, apparently, too small for fat people and those with broken-down loos.’
      • ‘‘I have titrations on the brain,’ I gasped, nosily sucking in air.’
      • ‘I have a patient on the brain as well.’
      • ‘For most of my adult life I have had a tune on the brain.’
      • ‘I have taken to shuffling about on the carpet with my rubber-soled shoes, distributing electric shocks because unlike the boys I don't have balls on the brain and rolling mouse balls along the carpet at a pin just doesn't interest me.’
      • ‘Again I thought of Andreios, just a brief second, but the hair and appearance was again off (I really had guys on the brain, needed to get over this).’
      • ‘He had my children on the brain and made me feel like I was a total failure.’
      • ‘Or at least acknowledge that they have it on the brain as much as men do.’
      • ‘The Core Team, as you probably know, has babies on the brain.’
      • ‘I've had interviews on the brain for the past few months - verbal ones, written ones, for business and for pleasure.’
      be fixated, be preoccupied, be infatuated, be possessed, be haunted, be consumed, be plagued, be tormented, be bedevilled, be eaten up, be gripped, be in the grip of, be dominated, be beset
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Old English brægen, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch brein.