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hair

Syllabification: hair

Definition of hair in English:

noun

1Any of the fine threadlike strands growing from the skin of humans, mammals, and some other animals.
Example sentences
  • The oils are rapidly absorbed through skin although the hair on animal skin makes it difficult to apply them.
  • A thick white coat of hollow hairs provides good insulation from the arctic climate.
  • There was a man at the bus stop with a mole this morning - the kind of mole that grows thick black hairs.
Synonyms
coat, fleece, pelt;
mane
1.1A fine threadlike strand growing from the epidermis of a plant, or forming part of a living cell.
Example sentences
  • The cuticular hairs formed by epidermal cells are not the only examples of cellular projections found in Drosophila.
  • Plastid morphogenesis in trichome hair cells from the stem and petiole of tomato plants.
  • The leaf surfaces of almost all plant species possess specialized epidermal cell types that form hairs or trichomes.
1.2 (a hair) A very small quantity or extent: his magic takes him a hair above the competition
More example sentences
  • But just a hair above a majority of his votes came from a secularized portion of society.
  • It's family style, you pay a lot of money for it, and the food is a hair above the other restaurant.
  • On the whole, readings ended up just a hair above normal.
2Hairs collectively, especially those growing on a person’s head: a woman with shoulder-length fair hair [as modifier]: a hair salon
More example sentences
  • Jessica is tanned and has shoulder-length brown hair while Holly is fair and has blonde hair.
  • The second man was white, between 40 to 45 years old, with grey shoulder length hair and a beard.
  • Her shoulder length hair had grown down to her back and gone from straight to curly.
Synonyms
locks, curls, ringlets, mane, mop;
shock of hair, head of hair;

Origin

Old English hǣr, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch haar and German Haar.

More
  • In English the state of people's hair is used to reflect how they feel and behave—since the 1990s if you have a bad hair day you have a day when everything seems to go wrong. If you don't turn a hair you are unflustered. It was first used in the early 19th century of horses who did not show any signs of sweating, which would curl and roughen their coat. If you let your hair down you become uninhibited. This idea started in the mid 19th century as to let down the back hair, with the notion of relaxing and becoming less formal. The expression the hair of the dog, for a hangover cure, is a shortening of a hair of the dog that bit you. It comes from an old belief that someone bitten by a rabid dog could be cured of rabies by taking a potion containing some of the dog's hair. Harsh (Middle English) comes from the related Middle Low German harsch ‘rough’, the literal meaning of which was ‘hairy’, from haer ‘hair’.

Phrases

hair of the dog

1
informal An alcoholic drink taken to cure a hangover.
[from hair of the dog that bit you, formerly recommended as an efficacious remedy for the bite of a mad dog]
Example sentences
  • The team also experimented with the hair of the dog - or drinking a little more alcohol in the morning.
  • I started the day off trying to stave off my hangover with the hair of the dog.
  • Down the ages, there have been numerous ‘folk’ cures and remedies for hangovers, one of the best known being ‘the hair of the dog that bit you’ - another drink on waking.

a hair's breadth

2
A very small amount or margin: you escaped death by a hair’s breadth
More example sentences
  • We were a hair's breadth away from declaring a major incident.
  • It is also our understanding that we missed two of the remaining three key indicators by a hair's breadth.
  • They were never going to accept that and the idea that they were within a hair's breadth of a deal is simply wrong.
Synonyms
the narrowest of margins, a narrow margin, the skin of one's teeth, a split second, a nose, a whisker

in (or out of) someone's hair

3
informal Annoying (or ceasing to annoy) someone: I’m glad he’s out of my hair
More example sentences
  • I've really enjoyed working on the piece, but I'm very, very glad to get it out of my hair, at least temporarily…
  • I was sort of glad to get these guys out of my hair for a few hours, a day or two.
  • Her parents were probably more than glad to get her out of their hair.

let one's hair down

4
informal Behave in an uninhibited or relaxed manner: let your hair down and just have some fun
More example sentences
  • Secretaries, spouses, their children and the bosses were there, letting their hair down literally and enjoying themselves.
  • A short vacation allows you to let your hair down and enjoy natural surroundings with a loved one.
  • This week has a nice surprise with your name on it - so stop work, let your hair down and enjoy it.
Synonyms

make someone's hair stand on end

5
Alarm or horrify someone.
Example sentences
  • If you talk to people in the private sector about what happens in universities, it makes your hair stand on end.
  • A woman patron tells me that electrical outlets (for dryers) are so shockingly few as to make your hair stand on end.
  • He was a good friend, a close colleague, someone who fearlessly undertook assignments that would make your hair stand on end.
Synonyms
horrify, shock, appall, scandalize, stun;
informal make someone's hair curl, turn someone's hair white

not a hair out of place

6
(Of a person) extremely neat and tidy in appearance.
Example sentences
  • ‘Hello,’ her voice was silky and bright, flashing me a perfect smile with white teeth to go along with it, not a hair out of place.
  • This was a ridiculous notion, as he looked perfectly normal to everybody except himself - he was used to being immaculate in public, with not a hair out of place.
  • All day in the park with Fido and not a hair out of place.

not turn a hair

7
Remain apparently unmoved or unaffected: the old woman didn’t turn a hair; she just sat quietly rocking
More example sentences
  • I want the old dog, who doesn't turn a hair if you burst a balloon behind her and who sleeps on our bed at night (even if she does try to eat out feet occasionally).
  • And of course, cacti and succulents don't turn a hair in the heat.
  • While his owner trembled at the turbulence, he happily looked out of the window and didn't turn a hair.

put hair on one's chest

8
informal (Of an alcoholic drink) be very strong.
Example sentences
  • My grandmother told me that drinking hard liquor would ‘put hair on your chest.’
  • The Baron ordered the chef to change the lamb ragu to a more ‘manly’ dish: lamb shank, a dish that puts hair on your chest.
  • He said it would put hair on your chest.

split hairs

9
Make small and overfine distinctions.
Example sentences
  • Yes, I do see the distinction and am perhaps splitting hairs over the delivery of the message.
  • One sentence in the manual required that lawyers participating in the recount should ‘have the courage to voice disagreement and must split hairs trying to find faults.’
  • I'm perhaps splitting hairs, here, but there has got to be a difference between drawing influence from various sources and plagiarizing.
Synonyms
quibble, cavil, carp, niggle
informal nitpick
archaic pettifog

Derivatives

hairlike

1
adjective
Example sentences
  • The wind stirs his hair-like feathers, at times blowing the avian equivalent of bangs across his ‘forehead’ but still he stands studying the water.
  • Their flowers range from deep carmine-red through mid-blue to purplish-pink and even beetroot, before giving way to fluffy, hair-like seed heads.
  • Even botanists agree that hair-like roots of mosses can absorb water from the thin layer of soil.

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