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  1. the growth of hair on the face of an adult man, often including a mustache.
  2. Zoology. a tuft, growth, or part resembling or suggesting a human beard, as the tuft of long hairs on the lower jaw of a goat or the cluster of hairlike feathers at the base of the bill in certain birds.
  3. Botany. a tuft or growth of awns or the like, as on wheat or barley.
  4. a barb or catch on an arrow, fishhook, knitting needle, crochet needle, etc.
  5. Also called bevel neck. Printing.
    1. the sloping part of a type that connects the face with the shoulder of the body.
    2. British.the space on a type between the bottom of the face of an x-high character and the edge of the body, comprising both beard and shoulder.
    3. the cross stroke on the stem of a capital G.
verb (used with object)
  1. to seize, pluck, or pull the beard of: The hoodlums bearded the old man.
  2. to oppose boldly; defy: It took courage for the mayor to beard the pressure groups.
  3. to supply with a beard.

Origin of beard

before 900; Middle English berd, Old English beard; cognate with German Bart, Dutch baard, Late Latin Langobardi Long-beards, name of the Lombards, Crimean Gothic bars, Latin barba (> Welsh barf), Lithuanian barzdà, OCS brada, Russian borodá; European Indo-European *bHaer-dhā, perhaps akin to barley1
Related formsbeard·like, adjectiveun·beard, verb (used with object)

Synonyms for beard

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  1. Charles Austin,1874–1948, and his wife Mary, 1876–1958, U.S. historians.
  2. Daniel Carter,1850–1941, U.S. artist and naturalist: organized the Boy Scouts of America in 1910.
  3. James Andrew,1903–85, U.S. cooking teacher and food writer. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for beard

Contemporary Examples of beard

Historical Examples of beard

  • The hands of Hank Rainer fell suddenly, but now lower than his beard.

  • I would not let the smallest child stroke his father's beard roughly.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • In his father's face this could not be detected, on account of the beard.

    Rico and Wiseli

    Johanna Spyri

  • Look you, Sir; a beard is something in itself; a beard is half the doctor.

  • Remembering her map Kingozi's lips compressed under his beard.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

British Dictionary definitions for beard


  1. the hair growing on the lower parts of a man's face
  2. any similar growth in animals
  3. a tuft of long hairs in plants such as barley and wheat; awn
  4. the gills of an oyster
  5. a barb, as on an arrow or fish-hook
  6. slang a woman who accompanies a homosexual man to give the impression that he is heterosexual
  7. printing the part of a piece of type that connects the face with the shoulder
verb (tr)
  1. to oppose boldly or impertinently
  2. to pull or grasp the beard of
Derived Formsbearded, adjective

Word Origin for beard

Old English beard; related to Old Norse barth, Old High German bart, Latin barba
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 beard

Old English beard "beard," from West Germanic *barthaz (cf. Old Frisian berd, Middle Dutch baert, Old High German bart, German bart), seemingly from PIE *bhardh-a- "beard" (cf. Old Church Slavonic brada, Lithuanian barzda, and perhaps Latin barba "beard").

The Greek and Roman Churches have long disputed about the beard. While the Romanists have at different times practised shaving, the Greeks, on the contrary, have strenuously defended the cause of long beards. Leo III. (795 AD) was the first shaved Pope. Pope Gregory IV., after the lapse of only 30 years, fulminated a Bull against bearded priests. In the 12th century the prescription of the beard was extended to the laity. Pope Honorius III. to disguise his disfigured lip, allowed his beard to grow. Henry I. of England was so much moved by a sermon directed against his beard that he resigned it to the barber. Frederick Barbarossa is said to have been equally tractable. [Tom Robinson, M.D., "Beards," "St. James's Magazine," 1881]

Pubic hair sense is from 1600s (but cf. neþir berd "pubic hair," late 14c.); in the 1811 "Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," the phrase beard-splitter is defined as, "A man much given to wenching" (see beaver).


c.1300, "to grow or have a beard," from beard (n.). The sense of "confront boldly and directly" is from Middle English phrases such as rennen in berd "oppose openly" (c.1200), reproven in the berd "to rebuke directly and personally" (c.1400), on the same notion as modern slang get in (someone's) face. Related: Bearded; bearding.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

beard in Science


  1. A tuft or group of hairs or bristles on certain plants, such as barley and wheat. The individual strands of a beard are attached to a sepal or petal.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.