five o'clock shadow

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Alternative forms[edit]


1942,[1] US, advertising copy written by Jules B. Singer of the Federal Advertising Agency for the Gem brand of safety razors, made by the American Safety Razor Company.[2][3][4]


five o'clock shadow (plural five o'clock shadows)

  1. A beard growth visible late in the day on the face of a person with facial hair growth that was clean-shaven in the morning.
    • 1942 November 30, Life, page 96:
      Men Wanted Without 5 O’Clock Shadow! To get on her wanted list, you must put your best face forward. Avoid “5 o’clock shadow” — that messy afternoon beard-growth. Stay face-neat all day long by shaving with a genuine Gem Blade.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sales Management 1944 gives year as "1938", but earliest attestation of phrase appears to be 1942; earlier ads had used “5 o’ clock”, but not the full phrase
  2. ^ Tide, 1942 ("J. B. Singer", "o'clock shadow"
  3. ^ Sales Management: Survey of buying power, Volume 53, Issues 1-13, p. 118, 1944: “Most of the names of ailments and defects which advertising copywriters dream up to sell products have, at best, a slightly unpleasant connotation, and, at worst, they make cold shudders run down the spine. A shining exception is the term Five O'Clock Shadow introduced in 1938 by Federal Advertising Agency into magazine advertising for Gem Blades, made by American Safety Razor Corp. The phrase became so well known and so much a part of the national idiom that agent did not always include it in all advertisements, but its accompanying identification symbol (the dial of a clock [at] five o’clock, with a man’s face partially covering the dial) was always used.”
  4. ^ Sales Management - Volume 103, Issues 1–7, p. 37, “As a copywriter on Gem for 10 years, I’d used the ‘5 o’clock’ idea in body copy but not as a central theme,” Singer recalls.