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


It takes a man with some of the brains your pa had to make the game pay now.

I tell you, it's a mighty good thing we got your brains to depend on.

Even if you had the brains, you ain't got the taste nor the sperrit in you.

Perhaps, after all, I might have the brains to jest and toss about words and shoot off epigrams.

And found out he is sure to be; he has not the brains to hide a thing!

Any one with brains can get rich in this country if he will engage the right lawyer.

Chip and I don't set up nights emptying our brains out our mouths.

We have brains, and with our brains we must do in a scientific way what Nature does with tooth and claw.

You had brains, boy, but it would have been better if you had never used them.

Here was a real woman, one above the average in character and brains.


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.