Printable Version
Pronunciation: brin-dêld Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Having obscure streaks on a tawny or gray background, usually a description of animal hides.

Notes: brindled cowHere is a word we don't hear much today, yet brindled beasts abound. Phonetically it seems to come from the verb brindle, but this word seems to be a dialectal variant of bridle "to be irritated, resentful". The other alternative is that it comes from the noun brindle "a brindled color" in the sense of "having brindle", which makes more sense. Otherwise, it is a lexical orphan.

In Play: Today's word has a very narrow meaning referring to the hide of animals: "Homer's large brindled dog had earned the unbounded respect of the other dogs in the village." Dogs are not the only animals that are brindled: "Henrietta's chickens were brown and gold brindled."

Word History: The English couldn't decide how to pronounce today's Good Word or spell it. It is a variant of archaic brinded, a variant of brended that finally made its way into Modern English as brand. In Old English the sense of "burn" was born by brinnan or brennan, distant cousin of Modern German brennen "to burn". In late Old English this word was already metathesizing into bærnan and, ultimately into the Modern English spelling, burn. Believe it or not, the PIE original was gwher-/gwhor- "hot, heat", source also of Sanskrit gharmah "heat", Greek thermos "warm", Latin formus "warm" and fornax "oven", Armenian jer "warmth", and Welsh gwres "heat". In the Slavic languages the GWH reduced to G, which sometimes became [zh]: Russian zharit' "to roast"; other times it remained G: goret' "to burn". (Now a word of thanks to Susan Maynard for finding this endangered Good Word and sharing it with us.)

Dr. Goodword,

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