Definition of bristle in English:



  • 1A short, stiff hair on an animal's skin or a man's face.

    • ‘He followed the contours of my ears and felt the bristles of my beard.’
    • ‘He strokes his servant's beard, enjoying the feel of soft bristles against the palm of his hand.’
    • ‘I haven't shaved for the day, so short bristles of my beard pepper my chin.’
    • ‘Golden bristles stubbled his cheeks and jaw and his hair needed a quick comb.’
    • ‘His lip, covered with short bristles, quavered slightly.’
    • ‘He felt the rough bristles of its hide scouring his own furless skin.’
    hair, whisker
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    1. 1.1A stiff animal hair, or a man-made substitute, used to make a brush.
      ‘a toothbrush with nylon bristles’
      [mass noun] ‘the heads are made with natural bristle’
      • ‘It is recommended that natural bristle brushes never be used with latex coatings.’
      • ‘Oil-base paints, enamels, varnishes, most stains and lacquers should be applied with a natural bristle brush.’
      • ‘Place the bristles of the toothbrush where the teeth and gums meet.’
      • ‘For better results, use a natural bristle brush for more delicate items.’
      • ‘The cleaning of the micro-mesh screen is aided by the inclusion of a nylon bristle brush.’
      • ‘How else are we to understand the streaks made as she drags her brush's bristles through viscous paint?’
      • ‘Start by using a soft boar's head brush or similar natural bristle brush on your hair.’
      • ‘Try a brush with synthetic bristles, not natural ones.’
      • ‘Use a natural bristle brush, which works the stain into carvings and corners easier than a rag.’
      • ‘Flip your head back up then smooth the top layer of your hair with a natural bristle brush.’
      • ‘When the candlesticks have cooled, use a bristle or foam brush to paint them.’
      • ‘The use of a high quality natural bristle brush is recommended to lay on a furniture finish.’
      • ‘Apply the finish with a natural bristle brush in a steady and smooth manner.’
      • ‘Use a natural bristle brush and avoid stretching the hair when wet.’
      • ‘Use a paintbrush comb or small wire brush to clean the bristles.’
      • ‘A brush with millions of bristles was tickling my face.’
      • ‘The full bristle - brush lifts the dirt in an upward motion to the surface.’
      • ‘She sighed, playing with the bristles of the brush.’
      • ‘He reaches down to grab his tooth brush, and then holds the bristles under the water.’
      • ‘I thought of the infinite possibilities as I scrubbed, focusing on the bubbles the bristles of the brush made.’
      • ‘While brushing, place the bristles at a 45-degree angle to your teeth and slide the tips of the brush under the gums.’
      prickle, spine, quill, thorn, barb
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  • 1(of hair or fur) stand upright away from the skin, typically as a sign of anger or fear.

    ‘the hair on the back of his neck bristled’
    • ‘Her fur bristled, Ki's bright orange eyes shot to the door.’
    • ‘She stood with her fur bristling as she watched a form race across the hills towards them.’
    • ‘My fur bristled as I could tell that wolves had surrounded the clearing.’
    • ‘Her fur bristled in surprise, but she smiled at me when she turned.’
    • ‘Ayane shot up to a sitting position, back ramrod-straight and fur bristling.’
    • ‘Its passionate verve makes your hair bristle with sheer pleasure.’
    • ‘My hair bristled and I felt all my muscles twitch spasmodically.’
    • ‘I turned into a tiger and roared, feeling the sinews under my skin tighten, and my adopted whiskers bristle.’
    • ‘She could feel her short hair bristling against her chin and cheeks.’
    • ‘Elanor was peering in the doorway, her fur bristling.’
    • ‘The wolfish creature padded like a soldier down the hall, its fur bristling and its head held high by its broad chest.’
    • ‘Her eyes were phosphorus green and her fur bristled up.’
    • ‘It stood in the middle of the road now, its gray fur bristling and its yellowed teeth bared.’
    • ‘Now his fur bristled again, although not with pride.’
    • ‘His spiky black hair bristled as he ran to catch up with Kia's team.’
    • ‘Her ruff, all her fur bristled and her claws were unsheathed.’
    • ‘He looked down at Ace whose fur was bristling and her teeth and claws were bared.’
    • ‘The hairs on Rolando's neck bristled and he trembled with fear but continued to run after her.’
    • ‘He seemed a little taken aback, sat and listened with fur bristling, one hand stroking the back of the other.’
    • ‘The fledgling stiffened, feathers bristling as though roused by a gale.’
    rise, stand up, stand on end
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    1. 1.1(of an animal) react in such a way that its hair or fur stands on end.
      ‘the cat bristled in annoyance’
      • ‘The tall, dark stranger strode towards Alita as the wolf bristled and growled.’
      • ‘But in the corner the ape was bristling, and a certain point he snapped.’
      • ‘The Lizard's tail suddenly bristled up into spikes and formed into sharp icicles!’
      • ‘There was a dark colored flash and a few seconds later the wolf stood there, his tail bristled and red eyes glaring.’
      • ‘The cats sat right on the door frame, tensely bristling at the world beyond.’
    2. 1.2(of a person) react angrily or defensively.
      ‘she bristled at his rudeness’
      • ‘Her lawyers bristled at suggestions there may be no other willing witnesses to bring.’
      • ‘Watching him disheveled and obviously bristled, the messenger wondered who would fall prey to his rage.’
      • ‘Patrick bristled at the words, but could find no hidden insult, nor could he think of an objection to the statement.’
      • ‘The actors bristle at the notion that this sentiment will alienate a patriotic American audience.’
      • ‘She visably bristled when pressed about how tiny Tom is.’
      • ‘The young soldier bristled at being called a child.’
      • ‘Daniel bristled at the Captain's accusation, ‘What girl?’’
      • ‘Dahlia was not uncomfortable, she was bristling - seething.’
      • ‘She forced herself not to react visibly, but she bristled despite her efforts.’
      • ‘‘You make us sound like pets,’ said Ternora, bristling a little.’
      • ‘Ambrose was bristling in anger at the doctor's comment, so for a moment he could say nothing.’
      • ‘There was a subtle change in Adair towards defensive and Tristin stared at her as she almost bristled at him.’
      • ‘Enron officials have bristled at criticism that they aren't working quickly enough.’
      • ‘Andrew bristled at being told what his subject was and wasn't going to do.’
      • ‘He also bristled at claims that the organization did not view medical privacy as a priority issue.’
      • ‘Josh bristled as he said in defense, ‘Not all of us used violent means.’’
      • ‘Lewis bristles at the suggestion he's here to legitimize his acting.’
      • ‘Now her trim form bristled, like a cat about to attack.’
      • ‘At a press conference, the foreign secretary bristled at the suggestion he would be taking a message to New Delhi.’
      • ‘He's positively bristling about the government's failure to react to the crisis.’
      get angry, become infuriated, be furious, be maddened, bridle, become indignant, be irritated, get one's hackles up, have one's hackles up, feel one's hackles rise, rear up, draw oneself up, flare up, see red
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  • 2Be covered with or abundant in.

    ‘the roof bristled with antennae’
    • ‘She sat propped up in bed, bristling with tubes, and called to each of us by name.’
    • ‘True sore winners, they bristled with outrage at being judged for their results, not their professed intentions.’
    • ‘Their Internet sites bristle with purported official documents that detail and expose alleged plots.’
    • ‘The new songs bristle with an excitement and immediacy that demand attention.’
    • ‘In the beginning, the area had been crawling with soldiers and bristling with guns.’
    • ‘Built to last, they bristle with every modern convenience.’
    • ‘It's nondescript, faceless - yet bristling with hubris.’
    • ‘The screen bristles with sanctimonious speeches, but the same slogans echo relentlessly.’
    • ‘‘I don't care,’ I shot back at her, bristling with rage.’
    • ‘At the horse's feet, a pallet fence bristles with lances; their bearers have vanished away.’
    • ‘In his experience the airwaves are bristling with talk of drug use.’
    • ‘They bristled with weapons and were covered from head to foot in thick armor.’
    • ‘It bristled with raw jalapeño, cut slightly by the rich cream sauce.’
    • ‘The newspaper's office, a few kilometres away, is far from spiffy, even as it bristles with strategy ideas.’
    • ‘He never merely asserts: every paragraph bristles with footnotes and quiet exposition.’
    • ‘Our finalists, listed below, were an unusually eclectic group this year, bristling with personality.’
    • ‘The top and outer face of the wall are bristling with bamboo spikes.’
    • ‘His voice bristled with practised conviction.’
    • ‘Our boats bristled with cudgels, axes, knives, and machetes.’
    • ‘This fall's literary landscape fairly bristles with weirdness, perversion, and subversion.’
    abound, swarm, teem, crawl, overflow, hum, be alive, be packed, be crowded, be thronged, be jammed, be infested, be full, be covered
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Middle English: from Old English byrst (of Germanic origin, related to German Borste) + -le.