Definition of brood in English:



  • 1A family of birds or other young animals produced at one hatching or birth:

    ‘a brood of chicks’
    • ‘Unlike in unmanipulated broods, hatch date did not affect the survival of experimental chicks.’
    • ‘Increased predation affects the survival of nests and broods immediately after hatching, when the chance of total loss is highest.’
    • ‘In birds, the competitive ability of chicks within a brood is strongly influenced by their relative size and developmental stage.’
    • ‘The male usually remains near the nest until incubation begins, and rarely stays with the brood once they hatch.’
    • ‘In the summer of 1992, and apparently for the first time, two pairs of splendid great crested grebes successfully bred on the river in the city centre rearing broods of young.’
    • ‘A total of seven males stayed that long and would have successfully hatched their broods.’
    • ‘One family had raised a brood of chicks in mid-July, and they had already grown quite a bit by this time.’
    • ‘Why, then, would a female Louisiana waterthrush on this densely wooded stream choose a partner already mated with another female and whose time would have to be divided among the young of two broods?’
    • ‘Within three days of birth a brood of young may have been led a distance of almost a mile.’
    • ‘Helpers are generally young from previous broods that provide care for their parents' offspring.’
    • ‘I hope their nesting was successful and that they raised a healthy brood of chicks.’
    • ‘Both chicks from broods of two were treated similarly.’
    • ‘Limited observational and experimental studies of birds indicate that smaller broods are more often deserted.’
    • ‘The first nest containing a brood of tiny young was found in a slight depression in the ground beneath birches.’
    • ‘He incubates the eggs for around 23 days and tends the brood after they hatch.’
    • ‘The birds prospecting for nesting sites were most attracted to areas where other birds had large broods of robust infants.’
    • ‘In six instances females started with a second clutch only about 1 week after chicks from the first brood had left the nest.’
    • ‘Competition between siblings for resources is widespread in the broods of altricial birds.’
    • ‘My notebook reminds me of the scene: a dabchick swimming across the mere with a brood of tiny young all aboard and peeping from under the parent's wings.’
    • ‘Specifically, if females respond adaptively to changes in population density, they should produce large broods of small young at low density and small broods of large young at high density.’
    offspring, young, progeny, spawn
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    1. 1.1informal A large family of children:
      ‘she was brought up as part of a brood of eight’
      • ‘This allows me to strike the work-family balance that I have chosen for myself and my little brood.’
      • ‘She is one of a brood of eight, the majority of whom were female.’
      • ‘After the grandmother and her brood got off, a little fellow was dropped at a house.’
      • ‘His five sisters and their broods descend each summer creating an instant barrage of family noise.’
      • ‘Just around the corner from me there is a French infants' school, and the street is clogged with cars each morning as elegant French mothers arrive with their smart little broods.’
      family, household, ménage, clan, tribe
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  • 2[mass noun] Bee or wasp larvae.

    • ‘We recorded the transport of brood, workers, and the queen to the new nest on videotape.’
    • ‘Efficient concurrent functioning of both the guard and brood stealers is necessary to complete the task of stealing brood.’
    • ‘Sealed worker brood was taken from the experimental colonies and incubated until adult emergence.’
    • ‘Using this form of nest chamber enabled us to count the number of workers and brood in each subcolony without disturbing the nest.’
    • ‘In honeybees, worker policing via egg eating enforces functional worker sterility in colonies with a queen and brood.’


  • 1[no object] Think deeply about something that makes one unhappy, angry, or worried:

    ‘she had brooded over the subject a thousand times’
    • ‘Well they couldn't waste any time brooding on this because what if someone saw them?’
    • ‘On March 12 of 2002 Senator Heffernan delivered a speech in the Senate he'd been brooding on for over a year.’
    • ‘He had several more days of work ahead of him in order to study all of the documents Eliot needed, and the more he brooded over it and regretted his hastiness, the more difficult it would be to concentrate on his work.’
    • ‘Where comedy was once light-hearted, it now seems to have turned into the television equivalent of Gordon Brown, a serious figure brooding on the great issues.’
    • ‘He sat across from her as she sipped the hot chocolate he'd made while she was brooding on the living room sofa.’
    • ‘Daniel pondered for a while and brooded over his coffee.’
    • ‘A severe attack usually coincides with a stinking hangover and can start as early as midday, from whence I will spend the rest of the weekend brooding on the inevitability of Monday morning.’
    • ‘‘The day after the defeat is probably the worst, you start brooding on it, on what went wrong,’ Ford said.’
    • ‘More than 30 years after the end of the war, Westermann was still brooding on the scenes he'd witnessed in the Pacific.’
    • ‘Her sister was brooding on the bladed gauntlets and their meaning.’
    • ‘Even as they sharpened swords and fitted the armor they had scavenged from the attics of retired soldiers of the village, they brooded over each of those missed opportunities to alter their fate.’
    • ‘As Cara was brooding on this, she didn't hear someone come up behind her.’
    • ‘Sitting in a pub, brooding on fate's inexplicable blows, he encounters Geoff.’
    • ‘Rather than brooding on the bench, MacMillan studied every pass, tackle, and shot.’
    • ‘But the star had been brooding on his own mortality since the assassination of President John F Kennedy three years earlier.’
    • ‘I gasped, and ever since I have been brooding on the most tactful way to put it.’
    • ‘They seemed to be in a serious mood, perhaps brooding on the deteriorating human behaviour that cannot see that he is cutting the same very branch that he is sitting on.’
    • ‘Later, brooding on what she witnessed, she steps into traffic and is knocked down.’
    • ‘Shortly after the row with Collins Stewart became public, a year ago this weekend, Middleweek was again brooding on his position.’
    • ‘Willie O'Dea sat quietly brooding on what might have been.’
    worry about, fret about, agonize over, mope over, moon over, languish over, feel despondent about, grieve over, sulk about, eat one's heart out over
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  • 2[with object] (of a bird) sit on (eggs) to hatch them:

    ‘the male pheasant-tailed jacana takes over once the eggs are laid and broods them’
    • ‘When the young hatch, the female broods them and the male brings food.’
    • ‘Incubation lasts 10 to 16 days; chicks hatch synchronously and are brooded for about 4 days depending on the weather.’
    • ‘Once the young hatch, the female broods for 8-10 days and the male bring food to both the female and the young.’
    • ‘The female builds the nest and incubates and broods alone, but both parents feed the chicks, which fledge within 14-16 days of hatching.’
    • ‘Females build the nest, incubate eggs, and brood nestlings, but both sexes choose the nest site and feed offspring.’
    • ‘Incubation lasts 10 to 15 days and the altricial chicks are brooded for about 5 to 6 days after hatching.’
    • ‘The eggs are brooded under the tail of the female for about 40 days.’
    • ‘Once the 3 to 5 eggs hatch, the female broods for about two weeks.’
    • ‘Just recently, one of the most amazing fossils ever found was announced - an Oviraptor skeleton preserved brooding a clutch of eggs, just like a bird does.’
    • ‘All our study birds continued brooding and provisioning their chicks after the removal of telemetry gear.’
    • ‘Once the young hatch, the female broods them for about a week, and then joins the male in providing food for them.’
    • ‘After the young hatch, the female broods for 1-2 weeks, and the male continues to provide all food.’
    • ‘In the first few days after the young hatch, the female broods the young almost continuously.’
    • ‘The chicks are virtually naked when they hatch and must be brooded on the parents' feet for about 50 days.’
    • ‘Many of the birds are already brooding aquamarine eggs, but some are still in the construction phase.’
    • ‘Once the young hatch, the female broods while the male continues to bring food.’
    • ‘Once the young hatch, the female broods for about three weeks while the male brings food to her and the owlets.’
    • ‘Parents appear to brood newly hatched chicks for only a few days.’
    • ‘Once the young hatch, the female broods for about two weeks, and the male brings food to both the female and the young.’
    • ‘When the young hatch, the female broods and the male hunts.’
    incubate, cover, hatch, sit on
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    1. 2.1 (of a fish, frog, or invertebrate) hold (developing eggs) within the body.
      • ‘Like their seahorse relatives, male sea dragons brood the eggs.’
      • ‘Cichlids follow a typical developmental pattern but some species brood the eggs in the mouth while developing.’
      • ‘It's the Nursery Fish and like the Seahorse, the male broods the young, but not in a pouch.’
      • ‘Many cichlids brood the eggs in the mouth and, although rare, the free-swimming young of some species also rush into the parent's mouth for protection.’
      • ‘A few sea urchins brood their eggs in special pouches, but most provide no parental care.’
      • ‘Larger species of marine invertebrates that brood their young have evolved special ventilation mechanisms.’
      • ‘This sponge broods embryos and larvae at all times, allowing year-round access to biological material.’
      • ‘In peracardians, eggs are brooded behind the thorax.’
      • ‘The male broods the eggs and the average brood size is 200.’
      • ‘Fertilized eggs may be brooded for a time or may develop directly into a free-swimming, ciliated planula larva.’
      • ‘Crinoids are gonochoric and brood their young until the embryo develops into a doliolarian larva or a fully formed juvenile crinoid.’
      • ‘The eggs are usually brooded in ovicells (swollen spherical chambers in which the fertilized egg develops into a larva).’


  • [attributive] (of an animal) kept to be used for breeding:

    ‘a brood mare’
    • ‘We ne'er shall look upon her like again, unless we can prevail upon some Bedouin Chief to present us with a brood mare, and then the racing world shall see what a breed we shall introduce into this country.’
    • ‘Those fish are used as brood fish in the state's restocking program and then released into the wild.’
    • ‘For the second successive year Driffield-based hunter breeders Michael and Jeryl Grubb landed the county championship for home-bred brood mares.’
    • ‘She also finds homes for elderly brood dogs from farms in Florida.’
    • ‘He sold his business and, with his three sons and then wife, packed up a trailer filled with possessions - and 32 roosters and three brood hens - and headed for Oklahoma.’
    • ‘Mr Norquoy hopes to acquire new brood stock from among the 24,000 pigeons on display.’
    • ‘Clark said biologists will do another steelhead count this week, which may determine if there are enough wild fish in the river to allow the hatchery to catch brood stock.’
    • ‘He's in his seventies now and it was just towards the end of his life that he came across good pedigrees, and they're the brood mares we've held on to.’
    • ‘And we know the importance of selecting a brood mare for an heir to the throne.’
    • ‘Like Strouf, wheat and barley are his largest sources of income, with a small herd of 60 brood cows and hay encompassing over 2,000 acres.’
    • ‘Just like humans, Greg advises owners to have their horse's teeth checked every six to eight months if they're being ridden - or every year if the hairy client is retired or a brood mare.’
    • ‘I have plans to use her as a brood mare if I can get her to heal.’
    • ‘You have to consider from whence come your brood stock, the animals you're actually working with.’
    • ‘She has not been ridden in over 4 years as her previous owners used her as a brood mare.’
    • ‘It's a huge commitment of time, resources and money to bring a litter of puppies into the world and I don't think that anyone who thinks it will be pure fun and profit should be let near a potential brood bitch.’
    • ‘At the time when he married Sonia, she was not only ravishing but well provided for, and El Duende could buy more land and notably improve his stock of brood mares.’
    • ‘Like ‘matrix’ of course - how else to get from a brood cow to a rectangular grid of numbers?’
    • ‘To the rear of Kelgara House brood mares graze in the fields of the neighbouring Meadow Court Stud.’


Old English brōd, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch broed and German Brut, also to breed. The verb was originally used with an object, i.e. ‘to nurse (feelings) in the mind’ (late 16th century), a figurative use of the idea of a hen nursing chicks under her wings.