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See also: Bray




Etymology 1Edit

From Middle French braire, from Vulgar Latin *bragiō, from Gaulish *bragu (compare Old Irish braigid (to flatulate), Breton breugiñ (to bray), brammañ (to flatulate), Cornish bramma, brabma (to flatulate)), from Proto-Celtic *brageti, *bragyeti (to flatulate), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰreHg- (to stink, fart); cognate with Latin fragrō (to smell), Proto-Germanic *brakkô (hound). Alternatively from a Germanic source, ultimately from Proto-Germanic *brekaną (to break); cognate with frangere (to break).


bray (third-person singular simple present brays, present participle braying, simple past and past participle brayed)

  1. (intransitive) Of a donkey, to make its cry.
    Whenever I walked by, that donkey brayed at me.
  2. (intransitive) Of a camel, to make its cry.
  3. (intransitive) To make a harsh, discordant sound like a donkey's bray.
    He threw back his head and brayed with laughter.
  4. (transitive) To make or utter with a loud, discordant, or harsh and grating sound.
    • Milton
      Arms on armour clashing, brayed / Horrible discord.
    • Sir Walter Scott
      And varying notes the war pipes brayed.
    • Gray
      Heard ye the din of battle bray?
    • 1986, John le Carré, A Perfect Spy:
      “But, Jack, it's all so circumstantial—you said so yourself,” Brammel brayed, never stronger than when demonstrating that two positives made a negative.


bray (plural brays)

  1. The cry of an ass or donkey.
  2. The cry of a camel
  3. Any harsh, grating, or discordant sound.
    • Jerrold
      the bray and roar of multitudinous London
    • 1876, The London Quarterly and Holborn Review (volume 46, page 257)
      If it has not the trumpet's power, neither has it the trumpet's bray, but rather a flute-like tone of its own.

Etymology 2Edit

From Old French breier (Modern French broyer).


bray (third-person singular simple present brays, present participle braying, simple past and past participle brayed)

  1. (now rare) To crush or pound, especially in a mortar.
    • Bible, Proverbs xxvii. 22
      Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar, [] yet will not his foolishness depart from him.
    • 1624, John Smith, Generall Historie, in Kupperman 1988, page 141:
      Their heads and shoulders are painted red with the roote Pocone brayed to powder, mixed with oyle [...].
    • 1625, Samuel Purchas, “Their Cocos and other fruits and food, their Trades and trading, Creatures profitable and hurtfull. Of Male their principall Iland. Their Houſes, Candou, Languages, Apparell.”, in Pvrchas his Pilgrimes. In Five Bookes. [...] The Second Part., volume II, London: Printed by William Stansby for Henrie Fetherstone, and are to be sold at his shop in Pauls Church-yard at the signe of the Rose, OCLC 63012317, page 1643 [sic: 1653]:
      They boyle it alſo, and after dry it and bray it, and of this bran, with egges, hony, milke, and butter of Cocos, they make Florentines, and verie good belly-timber.
  2. (Britain, chiefly Yorkshire) By extension, to hit someone or something.
    • 2011, Sarah Hall, Butchers Perfume from The Beautiful Indifference, Faber and Faber (2011), page 25:
      If anything he brayed him all the harder - the old family bull recognising his fighting days were close to over.