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noun, plural vi·bris·sae [vahy-bris-ee] /vaɪˈbrɪs i/.
  1. one of the stiff, bristly hairs growing about the mouth of certain animals, as a whisker of a cat.
  2. one of the long, slender, bristlelike feathers growing along the side of the mouth in many birds.

Origin of vibrissa

1685–95; < Medieval Latin, derivative of Latin vibrāre to shake
Related formsvi·bris·sal, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Historical Examples of vibrissa

British Dictionary definitions for vibrissa


noun plural -sae (-siː) (usually plural)
  1. any of the bristle-like sensitive hairs on the face of many mammals; a whisker
  2. any of the specialized bristle-like feathers around the beak in certain insectivorous birds
Derived Formsvibrissal, adjective

Word Origin for vibrissa

C17: from Latin, probably from vibrāre to shake
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 vibrissa

plural vibrissae, 1690s, from Latin vibrissa, akin to vibrare "to vibrate" (see vibrate).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

vibrissa in Medicine


[vī-brĭsə, və-]
n. pl. vi•bris•sae (-brĭsē)
  1. Any of the hairs growing at the anterior nares.
  2. Any of the long, stiff hairs projecting from the anterior nares of most mammals, as cat whiskers.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

vibrissa in Science


[vī-brĭsə, və-]
Plural vibrissae (vī-brĭsē, və-)
  1. Any of the long, stiff, bristlelike hairs that project from the snout or brow of most mammals, as the whiskers of a cat or rat. Vibrissae often serve as tactile organs, especially in nocturnal animals and marine mammals such as seals and manatees.
  2. Any of several long modified feathers that grow along the sides of the beak of certain birds and help trap insects caught in flight.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.