use-icon

HOW TO USE THE DICTIONARY

Learn what the dictionary tells you about words.

Get Started Now!

Some compound words (like bus rapid transit, dog whistle, or identity theft) don’t appear on the drop-down list when you enter them into the search window. If a compound term doesn’t appear in the drop-down list, try entering the term into the search window and then hit the search button (instead of the “enter” key). Alternatively, begin searches for compound terms with a quotation mark.

use-icon

THE USAGE PANEL

The Usage Panel is a group of nearly 200 prominent scholars, creative writers, journalists, diplomats, and others in occupations requiring mastery of language. The Panelists are surveyed annually to gauge the acceptability of particular usages and grammatical constructions.

The Panelists

puzzle-icon

NEED HELP SOLVING A CROSSWORD PUZZLE?

Go to our Crossword Puzzle Solver and type in the letters that you know, and the Solver will produce a list of possible solutions.

open-icon

INTERESTED IN DICTIONARIES?

Check out the Dictionary Society of North America at http://www.dictionarysociety.com

open-icon

AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY APP

The new American Heritage Dictionary app is now available for iOS and Android.

scroll-icon

INDO-EUROPEAN & SEMITIC ROOTS APPENDICES

Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

Indo-European Roots

Semitic Roots

The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

open-icon

OPEN DICTIONARY PROJECT

Share your ideas for new words and new meanings of old words!

Start Sharing Now!

100-words-icon

See word lists from the best-selling 100 Words Series!

Find out more!

brush 1 (brŭsh)
Share:
n.
1.
a. An implement typically consisting of bristles fastened into a handle, used in scrubbing, polishing, grooming, or applying a liquid.
b. The act of using this implement.
2.
a. A sweeping stroke of the hand, as in removing something.
b. A light touch in passing; a graze.
c. An instance of contact with something undesirable or dangerous: a brush with the law; a brush with death.
3. A bushy tail: the brush of a fox.
4. A sliding connection completing a circuit between a fixed and a moving conductor.
5. A snub; a brushoff.
v. brushed, brush·ing, brush·es
v.tr.
1.
a. To clean, polish, or groom with a brush: brush one's teeth; brush the dog's coat.
b. To apply with a brush: brushed shellac onto the wood.
c. To remove with a brush or with sweeping strokes: brushed dirt from his pants.
2. To touch lightly in passing; graze against.
v.intr.
1. To use a brush.
2. To make sweeping strokes with the hand.
3. To touch something lightly in moving past.
Phrasal Verbs:
brush aside/off
To dismiss abruptly or curtly: brushed the matter aside; brushed an old friend off.
brush back Baseball
To force (a batter) to move away from the plate by throwing an inside pitch.
brush up
To refresh one's memory or renew one's skill regarding (something).

[Middle English brushe, twigs used as a broom or a brush to clean, painter's brush, from Old French brosse, brushwood, brush; see BRUSH2.]

brusher n.
brushy adj.

Synonyms: brush1, glance1, graze2, shave, skim
These verbs mean to make light contact with something in passing: Her arm brushed mine. His fist glanced his opponent's chin. The keel grazed bottom in the shallow water. The front tire shaved the curb. The oars skimmed the pond's surface.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

This website is best viewed in Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Safari. Some characters in pronunciations and etymologies cannot be displayed properly in Internet Explorer.