1. a prickly plant or shrub, especially the sweetbrier or a greenbrier.
  2. a tangled mass of prickly plants.
  3. a thorny stem or twig.


  1. the white heath, Erica arborea, of France and Corsica, the woody root of which is used for making tobacco pipes.
  2. a pipe made of brierroot.

noun Usually Disparaging.

  1. (chiefly in Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee) a term used to refer to a rustic or hillbilly, especially one from Appalachia.


  1. any of various thorny shrubs or other plants, such as the sweetbrier and greenbrier


  1. a variant spelling of briar 1

“thorny shrub, heath,” 1540s, variant of Middle English brere, from Old English brer (Anglian), brær (West Saxon) “brier, bramble, prickly bush,” of unknown origin. Briar is the most recent variant (c.1600). Originally used of prickly, thorny bushes in general, now mostly restricted to wild rose bushes. Used figuratively (in plural) for “troubles” from c.1500.


type of tobacco pipe introduced to England c.1859 and made from the root of a certain shrub, 1868, from French bruyère “heath plant,” from Old French bruiere “heather, briar, heathland, moor” (12c.), from Gallo-Romance *brucaria, from *brucus “heather,” from Gaulish (cf. Breton brug “heath,” Old Irish froech). Form altered in English by influence of brier (n.1).

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