Briar refers to a prickly plant or brush with thorns such as sweetbriar and greenbriar. The origin of the word comes from Old English brǣr meaning “briar, bramble” which may be derived from PIE *wert- (to twist, turn). Briar also refers to a pipe for smoking, made from the roots of that shrub. The origin of that word comes from French bruyère meaning “heather” or “heath, moor” derived from Gallo-Latin brucaria from Proto-Celtic *wroikos (heather) which may also be derived from PIE *wert- (to twist, turn).
Briar is also an English surname, a locational name for someone who lived near briars, or perhaps it derived as a nickname for someone who had a prickly personality. Briar could also be a shortened form of McBriar, an anglicized form of Gaelic Mac Bràthar meaning “son of the friar”; bràthar is the Irish word for brother.
- Brier (English)