Also called, especially British, barber's shop. the place of business of a barber.
the singing of four-part harmony in barbershop style or the music sung in this style.


specializing in the unaccompanied part-singing of popular songs in which four voices move in close, highly chromatic harmony: a barbershop quartet.
characteristic of such part-singing.

Origin of barbershop

First recorded in 1570–80; barber + shop Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for barber-shop

Historical Examples of barber-shop

  • "And then to a barber-shop with him," went on Mrs. Effie, who had paid no heed to his outburst.

    Ruggles of Red Gap

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Right abreast the post-office; Henry Cahoon has been usin' it for a barber-shop.

    Thankful's Inheritance

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • From this he had risen one step and become porter and messenger in a barber-shop.

    The heart of happy hollow

    Paul Laurence Dunbar

  • I saw a barber-shop with chairs, niches for the soap and mugs, and the waiting sofa.


    Hans Mattson

  • He resolved to be on the lookout that day for a barber-shop set.

    Merton of the Movies

    Harry Leon Wilson

British Dictionary definitions for barber-shop



mainly US the premises of a barber
(modifier) denoting or characterized by a type of close four-part harmony for male voices, popular in romantic and sentimental songs of the 1920s and 1930sa barbershop quartet
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for barber-shop

1570s, from barber + shop (n.). Earlier in same sense was barbery (c.1500). Barber-shop in reference to close harmony male vocal quartets, it is attested from 1910; the custom of barber's keeping a musical instrument in their shops so waiting customers could entertain themselves is an old one, but the musical product had a low reputation and barber's music (c.1660) was "wretched, poorly performed music."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper