General English

  • noun a tool made of a handle and hairs or wire, used for doing things such as cleaning or painting
  • noun the act of cleaning with a brush
  • noun a short argument or fight with someone
  • verb to clean with a brush
  • verb to go past something touching it gently


  • noun a tool that has lengths of hair or wire fixed into a handle and is mainly used for painting or cleaning
  • noun a small, replaceable block of carbon which rubs against the surface of a commutator in a generator or electric motor

Cars & Driving

  • noun rubbing electrical contact for use with rotating members, especially commutators in starters, alternators or generators


  • noun a tool in a paint software package that draws pixels on screen


  • A conductor which slides to maintain contact between stationary and moving parts of an electrical device, such as a motor. It is usually made of graphite, or a metal.


  • verb to coat foods before, during or after cooking with a substance such as milk, fat, oil or beaten egg using a small brush

Origin & History of “brush”

It is not clear whether brush for sweeping and brush as in brushwood are the same word, although both appeared in the language at about the same time, from a French source. Brush ‘broken branches’ comes from brousse, the Anglo-Norman version of Old French broce, which goes back to an unrecorded vulgar Latin *bruscia. Brush for sweeping, on the other hand, comes from Old French broisse or brosse. It is tempting to conclude that this is a variant of Old French broce, particularly in view of the plausible semantic link that brushwood (cut twigs, etc) bundled together and tied to a handle makes a serviceable brush (that is how broom came to mean ‘brush’). The verb brush ‘move fast or heedlessly’ comes from Old French brosser ‘dash through undergrowth’, a derivative of broce; its frequent modern connotation of ‘touching in passing’ comes from the other brush.