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Daydreaming or deeply contemplative, as in Margaret sits in the library, in a brown study. This term dates from the late 1500s, and although by then in a study had long meant “lost in thought,” the reason for adding brown is unclear. Moreover, the present idiom also is ambiguous, some holding that it denotes genuine thoughtfulness and others that it signifies absentmindedness.


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  • Brown-sugar

    unrefined or partially refined sugar that retains some molasses. a commercial product consisting of white, refined sugar to which molasses has been added. Slang. brownish-colored heroin manufactured illicitly in Mexico. Historical Examples The Old Tobacco Shop William Bowen The Closet of Sir Kenelm Digby Knight Opened Kenelm Digby noun sugar that is unrefined or only […]

  • Brown-swiss

    one of a breed of brownish dairy cattle raised originally in Switzerland.

  • Brown-tail-moth

    a white moth, Nygmia phaerrhoea, having a brown tuft at the end of the abdomen, the larvae of which feed on the foliage of various shade and fruit trees. Historical Examples Natural Wonders Edwin Tenney Brewster noun a small brown-and-white European moth, Euproctis phaeorrhoea, naturalized in the eastern US where it causes damage to shade […]

  • Brown-thrasher

    a common large songbird, Toxostoma rufum, of the eastern U.S., having reddish-brown plumage.

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