- one of the short, stiff, coarse hairs of certain animals, especially hogs, used extensively in making brushes.
- anything resembling these hairs.
verb (used without object), bris·tled, bris·tling.
- to stand or rise stiffly, like bristles.
- to erect the bristles, as an irritated animal (often followed by up): The hog bristled up.
- to become rigid with anger or irritation: The man bristled when I asked him to move.
- to be thickly set or filled with something suggestive of bristles: The plain bristled with bayonets. The project bristled with difficulties.
- to be visibly roused or stirred (usually followed by up).
verb (used with object), bris·tled, bris·tling.
- to erect like bristles: The rooster bristled his crest.
- to furnish with a bristle or bristles.
- to make .
- any short stiff hair of an animal or plant
- something resembling these hairtoothbrush bristle
- (when intr , often foll by up) to stand up or cause to stand up like bristlesthe angry cat’s fur bristled
- (intr sometimes foll by up) to show anger, indignation, etcshe bristled at the suggestion
- (intr) to be thickly covered or setthe target bristled with arrows
- (intr) to be in a state of agitation or movementthe office was bristling with activity
- (tr) to provide with a bristle or bristles
Old English byrst “bristle,” with metathesis of -r-, from Proto-Germanic *bursti- (cf. Middle Dutch borstel, German borste), from PIE *bhrsti- from root *bhars- “point, bristle” (cf. Sanskrit bhrstih “point, spike”). With -el, diminutive suffix.
c.1200 (implied in past participle adjective bristled) “set or covered with bristles,” from (n.). Meaning “become angry or excited” is 1540s, from the way animals show fight. Related: Bristling.