1. a support, as of metal or wood, projecting from a wall or the like to hold or bear the weight of a shelf, part of a cornice, etc.
  2. a shelf or shelves so supported.
  3. Also called square bracket. one of two marks [ or ] used in writing or printing to enclose parenthetical matter, interpolations, etc.
  4. Mathematics.
    1. brackets,parentheses of various forms indicating that the enclosed quantity is to be treated as a unit.
    2. (loosely) vinculum(def 2).
    3. expression or formula between a pair of brackets.
  5. a grouping of people based on the amount of their income: the low-income bracket.
  6. a class; grouping; classification: She travels in a different social bracket.
  7. Architecture.
    1. any horizontally projecting support for an overhanging weight, as a corbel, cantilever, or console.
    2. any of a series of fancifully shaped false consoles beneath an ornamental cornice.
  8. (on a staircase) an ornamental piece filling the angle between a riser and its tread.
  9. Shipbuilding.
    1. a flat plate, usually triangular with a flange on one edge, used to unite and reinforce the junction between two flat members or surfaces meeting at an angle.
    2. any member for reinforcing the angle between two members or surfaces.
  10. a projecting fixture for gas or electricity.
  11. Gunnery. range or elevation producing both shorts and overs on a target.

verb (used with object)

  1. to furnish with or support by a bracket or brackets.
  2. to place within brackets; couple with a brace.
  3. to associate, mention, or class together: Gossip columnists often bracket them together, so a wedding may be imminent.
  4. Gunnery. to place (shots) both beyond and short of a target.
  5. Photography. to take (additional shots) at exposure levels above and below the estimated correct exposure.


  1. an L-shaped or other support fixed to a wall to hold a shelf, etc
  2. one or more wall shelves carried on brackets
  3. architect a support projecting from the side of a wall or other structureSee also corbel, ancon, console 2
  4. Also called: square bracket either of a pair of characters, [ ], used to enclose a section of writing or printing to separate it from the main text
  5. a general name for parenthesis, square bracket, brace (def. 6)
  6. a group or category falling within or between certain defined limitsthe lower income bracket
  7. the distance between two preliminary shots of artillery fire in range-finding
  8. a skating figure consisting of two arcs meeting at a point, tracing the shape ⋎

verb -kets, -keting or -keted (tr)

  1. to fix or support by means of a bracket or brackets
  2. to put (written or printed matter) in brackets, esp as being irrelevant, spurious, or bearing a separate relationship of some kind to the rest of the text
  3. to couple or join (two lines of text, etc) with a brace
  4. (often foll by with) to group or class togetherto bracket Marx with the philosophers
  5. to adjust (artillery fire) until the target is hit

1570s, bragget, “architectural support,” probably from Middle French braguette “codpiece armor” (16c.), from a fancied resemblance of architectural supports to that article of attire (Spanish cognate bragueta meant both “codpiece” and “bracket”), diminutive of brague “knee pants,” ultimately from Gaulish *braca “pants,” itself perhaps from Germanic (cf. Old English broc “garment for the legs and trunk;” see breeches). The sense might reflect the “breeches” sense, on the notion of two limbs or of appliances used in pairs. The typographical bracket is first recorded 1750, so called for its resemblance to double supports in carpentry (a sense attested from 1610s). Senses affected by Latin brachium “arm.”


1797, of printed matter, “to enclose in brackets,” from bracket (n.). Also, “to couple or connect with a brace” (1827), also figurative, “to couple one thing with another” in writing (1807). Artillery rangefinding sense is from 1903, from the noun (1891) in the specialized sense “distance between the ranges of two shells, one under and one over the object.” Related: Bracketed; bracketing. In home-building and joinery, bracketed is attested by 1801.

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