[Note: The original single-sense entry was split into two distinct senses.]
brag on v phr Cf on prep B6
1 To brag of or about. [This usage was appar common in 18th- and early 19th-century Engl; Johnson quotes an example from Pope, but brands it “improper.”] formerly widespread, now chiefly Midl
1796 Eagle (Hanover NH) 23 May /1, I’d have you watchful, as the dragon,/ Which once the Hesperides could brag on. 1828 Webster Amer. Dict., Brag, v. i. . . followed by of; as, to brag of a good horse, or of a feat. . . To brag on is vulgar; indeed the word itself is become low, and is not to be used in elegant composition. 1836 Natchez Daily Courier (MS) 31 Aug /3, [Letter:] I noticed a few days ago, an article from the Grand Gulf paper, bragging on the early Cotton picking on Mr. Coffee’s plantation, opposite that place. 1850 (1869) Watson Camp-Fires 49 MA, It would have been somethin’ to brag on, I know. 1870 Amer. Agric. 29.455 CT, And now the critter ’s killed five of my young turkeys, and . . went down to the store and brag’d on’t as ef he’d done suthin kind o’ grand. 1886 S. Cultivator 44.384 GA, He is this year bragging on a fine herd of grade Jerseys. 1898 Westcott Harum 191 cNY, “You have been very generous all through, Mr. Harum.” “Nothin’ to brag on,” he replied. 1925 AmSp 1.152 West, A man is much more apt to brag “on” than “about” himself in the West. 1938 Hutchinson News–Herald (KS) 26 June 12/5, Kansas has never bragged on her good points. 1942 (1971) Campbell Cloud-Walking 28 seKY, Preaching Jim Speaks never done chopping and heaving logs enough to brag on. 1965–70 DARE (Qu. HH8, A person who likes to brag) Infs MO8, 38, OH72, 80, 90, OK13, 18, TN30, TX42, (He) brags on himself; TN15, He brags on theyself; (Qu. HH7b, Someone who talks too much, or too loud: “He’s always _____.”) Inf ID2, Bragging on hisself. 1982 Paris News (TX) 19 Dec sec A 6/4, Some people just don’t ever know when to stop bragging on themselves and their possessions. 2007 Times Tribune (Corbin KY) 11 July 1/5, They have enough people who said he bragged on it and said they saw the body in the truck.
2 To praise, compliment, extol. chiefly Sth, S Midl
1860 Washington Weekly Telegraph (IN) [6 Apr 4]/1 (newspaperarchive.com), Gillett resumed his reading, and has not bragged on a strange baby since.—Indiana American. 1866 in 1871 U.S. Congress Serial Set 1460 H.exdoc. 145.14 ceTX, I heard them . . praising the liquor. . . They also bragged on the cigars. 1919 Life & Labor 9.291 wNC, Our co-workers received us with kindly tolerance, which was gradually transformed into most cordial cooperation. . . “We-all certainly do brag on you-all,” is their loyal assurance. 1932 Sun (Baltimore MD) 3 Oct 8/3 (Hench Coll.), If we had the money, darned if we wouldn’t go dressed up all the time so people would brag on us more. 1967 Green Horse Tradin’ 208 TX, He bragged on how big and how pretty my horses were. 1967 DARE Tape LA2, They’re pretty well fixed. I ain’t about bragging on ’em, but they were pretty well fixed; SC34, Somebody’d brag on you. 1969 Amarillo Daily News (TX) 3 Oct 16/2 OK, I bragged on that man’s wife and he still wouldn’t buy any tickets. Then I bragged on his coyote dogs and he bought five tickets. c1974 Jones Ozark Hill Boy 53 AR (as of c1930), I bragged on all the kids and dogs and he invited me in. 1977 Norman Kinfolks 96 eKY, But he bragged on me. He said. Mrs. Collier . . he said, I guess you know you saved this man’s life. 1989 Daily Independent (Kannapolis NC) 23 Mar sec A 8/3, My dining companion bragged on the tenderness, juiciness and leaness [sic] of her pork chops. 2000 Shores Tangier Is. 239 Chesapeake Bay, She’s always bragging on you (paying someone compliments).