Definition of bristle in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈbrisəl/


(usually bristles)
1A short stiff hair, typically one of those on an animal’s skin, a man’s face, or a plant.
Example sentences
  • I haven't shaved for the day, so short bristles of my beard pepper my chin.
  • His lip, covered with short bristles, quavered slightly.
  • Golden bristles stubbled his cheeks and jaw and his hair needed a quick comb.
hair, whisker;
(bristles) stubble, five o'clock shadow;
Zoology  seta/setae
1.1A stiff animal hair, or a man-made substitute, used to make a brush: a toothbrush with nylon bristles the heads are made with natural bristle
More example sentences
  • Try a brush with synthetic bristles, not natural ones.
  • Flip your head back up then smooth the top layer of your hair with a natural bristle brush.
  • Start by using a soft boar's head brush or similar natural bristle brush on your hair.
spine, prickle, quill, barb


[no object]
1(Of hair or fur) stand upright away from the skin, especially in anger or fear: the hair on the back of his neck bristled
More example sentences
  • She stood with her fur bristling as she watched a form race across the hills towards them.
  • Elanor was peering in the doorway, her fur bristling.
  • Ayane shot up to a sitting position, back ramrod-straight and fur bristling.
rise, stand up, stand on end
literary horripilate
1.1Make one’s hair or fur stand on end: the cat bristled in annoyance
More example sentences
  • 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 cats sat right on the door frame, tensely bristling at the world beyond.
1.2React angrily or defensively, typically by drawing oneself up: she bristled at his rudeness
More example sentences
  • There was a subtle change in Adair towards defensive and Tristin stared at her as she almost bristled at him.
  • At a press conference, the foreign secretary bristled at the suggestion he would be taking a message to New Delhi.
  • Her lawyers bristled at suggestions there may be no other willing witnesses to bring.
take offense, bridle, take umbrage, be affronted, be offended;
get angry, be irritated
2 (bristle with) Be covered with or abundant in: the roof bristled with antennas
More example sentences
  • They bristled with weapons and were covered from head to foot in thick armor.
  • In the beginning, the area had been crawling with soldiers and bristling with guns.
  • It's nondescript, faceless - yet bristling with hubris.
abound, overflow, be full, be packed, be crowded, be jammed, be covered
informal be thick, be jam-packed, be chock-full


Middle English: from Old English byrst (of Germanic origin, related to German Borste) + -le1.

Words that rhyme with bristle

abyssal, epistle, gristle, missal, scissel, thistle, whistle

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: bris·tle

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