Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.


Often enough these innovations were not due to the cleverness of man's brain.

But the shouting of the men as they tumbled into their saddles cleared his brain.

For that reason, as well as because of the fumes in his brain, he did not hear the coming of the automobile.

To disregard it would be to start the suspicions of Dozier as soon as his brain cleared.

A rush of new strength and courage went from heart to brain.

Her music came out of her being, not out of her brain and her throat.

There was a part of his brain always automatically on watch.

It is as easy to sit in Shakespeare's brain and think from there, as it is from Balzac's.

The letter she had received on her wedding day was burned into her brain.

Her sensitive nostrils dilated, her brain worked like a machine.


Old English brægen "brain," from Proto-Germanic *bragnam (cf. Middle Low German bregen, Old Frisian and Dutch brein), from PIE root *mregh-m(n)o- "skull, brain" (cf. Greek brekhmos "front part of the skull, top of the head"). But Liberman writes that brain "has no established cognates outside West Germanic ..." and is not connected to the Greek word. More probably, he writes, its etymon is PIE *bhragno "something broken."

The custom of using the plural to refer to the substance (literal or figurative), as opposed to the organ, dates from 16c. Figurative sense of "intellectual power" is from late 14c.; meaning "a clever person" is first recorded 1914. Brain teaser is from 1923. Brain stem first recorded 1879, from German. Brain drain is attested from 1963. An Old English word for "head" was brægnloca, which might be translated as "brain locker." In Middle English, brainsick (Old English brægenseoc) meant "mad, addled."


Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.