Face to face with brash: part 1

Lat week, I discussed the hardships endured by an etymologist who decides to investigate the origin of English br- words, and promised to use that post as an introduction to the story of brash.
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Lat week, I discussed the hardships endured by an etymologist who decides to investigate the origin of English br- words, and promised to use that post as an introduction to the story of brash. Today, I’ll try to make good on part of my promise. There are at least three words spelled and pronounced as brash. One surfaced in Scots in the fifteenth century and meant “attack.” Later, it narrowed its meaning to “a bout of sickness,” and survives in water brash “eructation of liquid from the stomach.” Then there is brash “brittle,” known since the sixteenth century. It’s anybody’s guess whether the best-known brash “rash, impetuous, audacious” is the same word as brash “brittle.” The senses match poorly. Rashness can of course result in being broken, but the connection is tenuous. The late eighteenth-century brash “a mass of fragments” appears to be akin to the obsolete verb brash “to break (a wall)” and goes well with brittle. Regional words, those mentioned in The English Dialect. . .

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News source: Linguistics – OUPblog

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