Definition of hair in English:

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Pronunciation: /hɛː/


1Any of the fine thread-like strands growing from the skin of humans, mammals, and some other animals: coarse outer hairs overlie the thick underfur thick black hairs on his huge arms
More 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.
fur, wool;
coat, fleece, pelt, hide, skin;
archaic fell
1.1A fine thread-like strand growing from the epidermis of a plant, or forming part of a living cell: scalloped leaves edged with silver hairs it damages the cilia, tiny hairs that clear invading bacteria from the lung
More 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.
2 [mass noun] Hairs collectively, especially those growing on a person’s head: her shoulder-length fair hair
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.
head of hair, shock of hair, mop of hair, mane;
locks, tresses, curls;
wig, toupee, hairpiece, switch
informal rug, thatch
British informal barnet
rare postiche
3 (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.



hair of the dog

informal An alcoholic drink taken to cure a hangover.
From hair of the dog that bit you, formerly recommended as a 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

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.
the narrowest of margins, a narrow margin, the skin of one's teeth, a split second, a fraction, a nose
informal a whisker

in (or out of) someone's hair

informal Annoying (or ceasing to annoy) someone: they sent him to America, just to get him out of their 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.
annoy, irritate, gall, irk, pique, needle, nettle, bother, vex, provoke, displease, offend, affront, upset, anger, exasperate, disgruntle, ruffle, put someone's back up, get on someone's nerves, make someone's hackles rise, raise someone's hackles
informal peeve, aggravate, miff, get, get to, bug, nark, wind up, get under someone's skin, get up someone's nose, hack off, get someone's goat, ruffle someone's feathers, get on someone's wick, give someone the hump, rub up the wrong way, get across someone
North American informal tick off, rankle, ride, gravel
vulgar slang piss off
British vulgar slang get on someone's tits
rare exacerbate, hump, rasp

keep your hair on!

British informal Used to urge someone not to panic or lose their temper.
Example sentences
  • Yes, yes, I'm coming… keep your hair on.
  • Keep your hair on, he'll wake up in a few minutes.

let one's hair down

informal Behave uninhibitedly: 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.
have a good time, have a great time, enjoy oneself, have fun, make merry, have the time of one's life, let oneself go, have a fling
informal have a ball, whoop it up, make whoopee, paint the town red, live it up, have a whale of a time, let it all hang out
British informal push the boat out, have a rave-up
North American informal hang loose, chill out
South African  jol

make someone's hair stand on end

Alarm or horrify someone: any kind of siren makes my hair stand on end
More 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.
horrify, shock, appal, scandalize, dismay, stun;
make someone's blood run cold, freeze someone's blood
informal make someone's hair curl
British informal put the wind up someone

not a hair out of place

Used to convey that a person is extremely neat and tidy in appearance: she was perfectly made up with not a hair out of place
More 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

Remain apparently unmoved or unaffected: if I was told I’d been sacked tomorrow, I don’t think I’d turn a hair
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.
remain calm, keep calm, keep cool, remain composed, remain unruffled, appear unaffected, maintain one's equilibrium, keep control of oneself, not show emotion, not lose one's head, bite one's lip, keep a stiff upper lip
informal keep one's cool, not bat an eyelid
British informal keep one's hair on

split hairs

Make small and overfine distinctions: one of those medieval disputes which split hairs endlessly
More 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.
quibble, raise trivial objections, find fault, cavil, carp, niggle, argue over nothing
informal nitpick
archaic pettifog



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.


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

  • 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’.

Words that rhyme with hair

affair, affaire, air, Altair, Althusser, Anvers, Apollinaire, Astaire, aware, Ayer, Ayr, bare, bear, bêche-de-mer, beware, billionaire, Blair, blare, Bonaire, cafetière, care, chair, chargé d'affaires, chemin de fer, Cher, Clair, Claire, Clare, commissionaire, compare, concessionaire, cordon sanitaire, couvert, Daguerre, dare, debonair, declare, derrière, despair, doctrinaire, éclair, e'er, elsewhere, ensnare, ere, extraordinaire, Eyre, fair, fare, fayre, Finisterre, flair, flare, Folies-Bergère, forbear, forswear, foursquare, glair, glare, hare, heir, Herr, impair, jardinière, Khmer, Kildare, La Bruyère, lair, laissez-faire, legionnaire, luminaire, mal de mer, mare, mayor, meunière, mid-air, millionaire, misère, Mon-Khmer, multimillionaire, ne'er, Niger, nom de guerre, outstare, outwear, pair, pare, parterre, pear, père, pied-à-terre, Pierre, plein-air, prayer, questionnaire, rare, ready-to-wear, rivière, Rosslare, Santander, savoir faire, scare, secretaire, share, snare, solitaire, Soufrière, spare, square, stair, stare, surface-to-air, swear, Tailleferre, tare, tear, their, there, they're, vin ordinaire, Voltaire, ware, wear, Weston-super-Mare, where, yeah

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