Thursday, April 2, 2015

A-to-Z Challenge: B

Day 2! Still excited?

Today’s word is brush. Am I choosing words to etymologize based on what I see around the house? Why would you think something like that?

Brush has a bunch of meanings. The kind of brush you use on the floor or your hair, to move quickly (brush past), or bushes and shrubs. So where do they all come from?

The first to appear was the word for greenery, and that’s basically where the other words come from. It showed up in the early fourteenth century, with the sweeping brush coming later on in the century (and the verb of that coming almost a century later), and the move quickly brush not showing up until the late seventeenth century.

It’s actually not a hundred percent that they are related. Green brush comes from the Anglo French bruce (same meaning), Old NorthFrench broche, and Old French broce, and all of those come from the Gallo Roman brocia. Before that, it might come from the Gallo Roman word brucus, which means heather, or the same place as the sweeper brush. That word comes from the Old French broisse. Before that…well, it was either the Vulgar Latin bruscia (a bunch of shoots used to sweep away dust) or the Proto Germanic bruskaz, underbrush. Hm, it could really be either one.

Last we have the quickly walking brush. Now, while it appeared in the late seventeenth century, but there was a version of the word (meaning to rush) in the early fourteenth century, too. It’s thought that it comes from the idea of a horse (seriously) passing through dense woods. It comes from the Old French brosser, travel through woods, and the Middle English brush, an onslaught. Not that it isn’t related to the other brushes at all, but it’s more like a third cousin or something.



  1. How interesting. Usually when I see people talking about words they are big complicated ones - who would have through such an everyday word was so intriguing. I am really enjoying your posts.
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

  2. Third cousin or red headed stepchild?

  3. Brush makes me think about painting. Not that I'm any good at painting mind you. Actually, I'm pretty terrible at it, but my Dad's good with a brush. I'm thinking of bruschetta and I'm super hungry. Funny how a lot of words lead me back to the game, 'Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon' but with food.....

    BACON!!!!!! See?

  4. I never much liked brushes. More of a comb person, myself.
    Of course, it is hard to paint with a comb.

  5. Brush indeed does have several meanings! I thought of brushing against someone you might not necessarily want to brush against.


  6. It really has a lot of meanings. Never really thought about that word being used in so many different ways.

  7. The Proto-Germanic Bruskaz has the sound of a curse word.

  8. I remember learning that brush also meant shrubs and bushes when there was a fire that came within feet of my house. Brush fire.

    -Chrys Fey
    Tremp’s Troops - A to Z Co-co-host
    Write with Fey

  9. Finding items from around the house, huh? Oh, I see...
    (Did you still have problems commenting on my blog? I'm stumped as to what could be causing the problem.)

  10. Not going to do a pun today, but somewhere I missed that you're doing this based on household items. Very clever. I like those soft brushes that seem to massage your scalp at the same time. :)

  11. I was wondering if there was a connection between the noun and the verb... Real or not, I like the image of the horse going through a thick forest.

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary - Epics from A to Z
    MopDog - 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary

  12. I'm enjoying brushing up my word history (Sorry) and seeing just how many incarnations a word has had.

  13. Oh, that's cool! I've actually wondered about it, believe it or not, though I've never looked it up before. Thanks for sharing!

  14. I never thought about brush and brush being related, but it makes sense!


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