Branks



Sometimes, brank. a device consisting of a headpiece with a flat, iron bit to restrain the tongue, formerly used to punish scolds.
to hold up and toss the head, as a horse when spurning the bit or prancing.
to bridle; restrain.
Historical Examples

The Romance of Words (4th ed.) Ernest Weekley
Bygone Punishments William Andrews
The Life of a Celebrated Buccaneer Richard Clynton
Bygone Punishments William Andrews
The Chronicles of Newgate, vol. 1/2 Arthur Griffiths
The House with the Green Shutters George Douglas Brown
The Lyon in Mourning, Vol. 1 Robert Forbes
Woman, Church & State Matilda Joslyn Gage
Bygone Punishments William Andrews
Notes and Queries, Number 232, April 8, 1854 Various

plural noun
(formerly) an iron bridle used to restrain scolding women
n.

Paide for caring a woman throughe the towne for skoulding, with branks, 4d. [“Municipal Accounts of Newcastle,” 1595]

“Ungallant, and unmercifully severe, as this species of torture seems to be, Dr. Plot, in his History of Staffordshire, much prefers it to the cucking stool, which, he says, ‘not only endangers the health of the party, but also gives the tongue liberty ‘twixt every dip.’ ” [Brockett, “A Glossary of North Country Words,”1829].

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