[hwis-ker, wis-]
See more synonyms for whisker on Thesaurus.com
  1. whiskers, a beard.
  2. Usually whiskers. side whiskers.
  3. a single hair of the beard.
  4. Archaic. a mustache.
  5. one of the long, stiff, bristly hairs growing about the mouth of certain animals, as the cat or rat; vibrissa.
  6. Also called whisker boom, whisker pole. Nautical. any spar for extending the clew or clews of a sail so that it can catch more wind.
  7. Radio, Electronics. cat whisker.
  8. Crystallography. a thin filament of a crystal, usually several millimeters long and one to two microns in diameter, having unusually great strength.
  1. by a whisker, by the narrowest margin: She won the race by a whisker.

Origin of whisker

late Middle English word dating back to 1375–1425; see origin at whisk, -er1
Related formswhisk·er·y, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for whiskers

stubble, goatee, burnsides, mustache, beard, muttonchops

Examples from the Web for whiskers

Contemporary Examples of whiskers

  • In fact, traditional Chinese medicine outlines the uses for each component of a tiger, down to its nose leather and whiskers.

  • With the nation facing a graver crisis than Lincoln was so far willing to admit, his whiskers gave him…gravitas.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Why Barack Should Grow a Beard

    Jamie Malanowski

    December 4, 2008

  • I sat beside John Bolton whose Nietzschean whiskers bristled at the turn history had taken.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Capital Goes Nuts

    Simon Schama

    November 6, 2008

Historical Examples of whiskers

British Dictionary definitions for whiskers


  1. any of the stiff sensory hairs growing on the face of a cat, rat, or other mammalTechnical name: vibrissa
  2. any of the hairs growing on a person's face, esp on the cheeks or chin
  3. (plural) a beard or that part of it growing on the sides of the face
  4. (plural) informal a moustache
  5. Also called: whisker boom, whisker pole any light spar used for extending the clews of a sail, esp in light airs
  6. chem a very fine filamentary crystal having greater strength than the bulk material since it is a single crystal. Such crystals often show unusual electrical properties
  7. a person or thing that whisks
  8. a narrow margin; a small distancehe escaped death by a whisker
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 whiskers



"hair of a man's face" (usually plural), c.1600, originally a playful formation, from Middle English wisker "anything that whisks or sweeps" (early 15c.); see whisk (v.). In reference to animal lip hair, recorded from 1670s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with whiskers


see by a hair (whisker); win by a nose (whisker).

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.