Share this entry

Share this page

comb

Line breaks: comb
Pronunciation: /kəʊm
 
/

Definition of comb in English:

noun

1A strip of plastic, metal, or wood with a row of narrow teeth, used for untangling or arranging the hair.
Example sentences
  • This involves lifting the hair with a metal comb and burning off the ends with a lighted taper.
  • I quickly brushed my teeth and ran a comb through my hair.
  • After breaking another tooth off of my comb, I realized that my hair was the boss.
1.1 [in singular] An act of untangling or arranging the hair with comb: she gave her hair a comb
More example sentences
  • Giving my hair a quick comb through with my fingers I turned around to see that the door was open.
  • With a quick comb of her hair, and the applying of a light coat of make-up and a flowery fragrance, she was out the door.
  • I've taken to wearing baseball caps instead of having a slight comb in the morning.
1.2A short curved type of comb, worn by women to hold the hair in place or as an adornment: her hair was held back with two tortoiseshell combs
More example sentences
  • Besides the explosion of headbands and jeweled hair combs, watch for a continual rise in the popularity of all types of silk and couture hair flowers.
  • No hats, combs, kerchiefs or anything but hair should be on your head.
  • ‘Finished,’ I called out and pulled the gold combs out of my hair as he turned back to face me.
2Something resembling a comb in function or structure, in particular:
2.1A device for separating and dressing textile fibres.
Example sentences
  • If a comb was used, this would be to get the fibres parallel.
2.2Australian /NZ The lower, fixed cutting piece of a sheep-shearing machine.
Example sentences
  • James Higham took out the first patent for such a machine, comprising a hand-held comb and mechanised cutter, in 1868.
2.3A row of brass points for collecting the electricity in an electrostatic generator.
3The red fleshy crest on the head of a domestic fowl, especially a cock: a grey-speckled hen with a red comb and wattles
More example sentences
  • Resplendent in bright orange, black and red, his comb, wattles and ear lobes have been shorn off.
  • Cracids may have a casque, hard comb, wattle or fleshy knob at the base of the bill.
  • As in other grouse species, red grouse combs are larger and brighter in males, and their size is testosterone-dependent.
4 short for honeycomb (sense 1) of the noun).
Example sentences
  • Honey bees occasionally invade homes and establish a colony, building combs of wax containing honey, pollen and brood in wall spaces.
  • A bird builds a nest, or the rabbit a burrow, the bee its comb, the beaver a dam, by nature, as Aristotle would say.
  • Chewing a piece of comb honey daily often helps to clear the nose and sinuses during hay fever attacks.

verb

[with object] Back to top  
1Untangle or arrange (the hair) by drawing a comb through it: she combed her hair and put some lipstick on (as adjective, with submodifier combed) neatly combed hair
More example sentences
  • For once, his hair had been combed neatly for the occasion.
  • Slightly built, with neatly combed gray hair and a trimmed mustache, he looks out at us through thick eyeglasses.
  • His hair had been combed neatly and he was wearing a hint of cologne when he outreached his hand for her.
Synonyms
groom, untangle, disentangle, smooth out, straighten, arrange, neaten, tidy, dress, rake;
1.1 (comb something out) Remove something in the hair by drawing a comb through it: she combed the burrs out of the dog’s coat
More example sentences
  • When you get home you have to comb it out of your hair.
  • My hair's knots were combed out painlessly and I was redressed in fresh linen.
  • Jane ran her fingers through her hair, combing the tangles out as she harshly pulled her hands through the snarls.
2Prepare (wool, flax, or cotton) for manufacture with a comb: the wool had been cleaned and combed (as adjective combed) the socks are made of soft combed cotton
More example sentences
  • The fibres damaged the skin on the women's hands if their job was to comb the flax by hand.
  • All the literature said you had to ret the fibres and then comb them, basically an industrial process.
  • They were made of long wool fibers that were first combed to straighten them, spun tightly then woven in fancy weave structures.
Synonyms
separate, dress, card, tease, hackle, heckle, hatchel
3Search carefully and systematically: police combed the area for the murder weapon [no object]: his mother combed through the cardboard boxes
More example sentences
  • Police are combing the streets, handing out flyers and watching airports and bus terminals.
  • Her disappearance provoked a massive public response, and hundreds of police officers combed the city streets.
  • I had been combing through the wreckage, searching for anyone that might have survived.
Synonyms
search, scour, look around in, explore, sweep, probe, hunt through, look through, scrabble about/around in, root about/around in, ferret (about/around) in, rummage about/around/round in, rummage in/through, forage through, fish about/around in, poke about/around in, dig in, grub about/around in, delve in, go through, sift through, rake, rifle through, ransack, turn over, go through with a fine-tooth comb;
turn upside down, turn inside out, leave no stone unturned in
British informal rootle around in
Australian/New Zealand informal fossick through
rare roust around in

Origin

Old English camb, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch kam and German Kamm.

Derivatives

comb-like

1
adjective
Example sentences
  • We saw and admired the fine, comb-like plates on either side of the shoveller's bill, through which it filter feeds, something which is almost impossible to see even through binoculars.
  • This small, comb-like attachment is designed to break up crusty snow.
  • It uses two tiny comb-like structures (instead of fingers) laid one over each other.

Definition of comb in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day peart
Pronunciation: pərt
adjective
lively; cheerful