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See also: haïr


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Hair in low gravity.


From Middle English hēr, heer, hær, from Old English her, hǣr , from Proto-Germanic *hērą. Compare West Frisian hier, Dutch haar, German Haar, Swedish hår, from Proto-Indo-European *keres- ‎(rough hair, bristle). Compare Middle Irish carrach ‎(scurfy, mangy), Albanian qere ‎(hair disease, ringworm, baldness), Lithuanian šerys ‎(bristle, animal hair), Russian шерсть ‎(šerstʹ, wool), Sanskrit कपुच्छल ‎(kapucchala, napehair, shorthairs).



hair ‎(countable and uncountable, plural hairs) (but usually in singular)

  1. (countable) A pigmented filament of keratin which grows from a follicle on the skin of humans and other mammals.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Geoffrey Chaucer (c.1343-1400):
      Then read he me how Sampson lost his hairs.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Edmund Spenser (c.1552–1599):
      And draweth new delights with hoary hairs.
  2. (uncountable) The collection or mass of such growths growing from the skin of humans and animals, and forming a covering for a part of the head or for any part or the whole body.
    In the western world, women usually have long hair while men usually have short hair.
    • 1900, Charles W. Chesnutt, The House Behind the Cedars, Chapter I:
      Her abundant hair, of a dark and glossy brown, was neatly plaited and coiled above an ivory column that rose straight from a pair of gently sloping shoulders, clearly outlined beneath the light muslin frock that covered them.
  3. (zoology, countable) A slender outgrowth from the chitinous cuticle of insects, spiders, crustaceans, and other invertebrates. Such hairs are totally unlike those of vertebrates in structure, composition, and mode of growth.
  4. (botany, countable) A cellular outgrowth of the epidermis, consisting of one or of several cells, whether pointed, hooked, knobbed, or stellated.
    Internal hairs occur in the flower stalk of the yellow frog lily (Nuphar).
  5. (obsolete) Haircloth; a hair shirt.
    • c. 1390, Geoffrey Chaucer, "The Second Nun's Tale", The Canterbury Tales:
      She, ful devout and humble in hir corage, / Under hir robe of gold, that sat ful faire, / Hadde next hir flessh yclad hir in an haire.
    • 1485, Thomas Malory, Le Morte Darthur, Book XV, chapter ij:
      Thenne vpon the morne whanne the good man had songe his masse / thenne they buryed the dede man / Thenne syr launcelot sayd / fader what shalle I do / Now sayd the good man / I requyre yow take this hayre that was this holy mans and putte it nexte thy skynne / and it shalle preuaylle the gretely
  6. (countable) Any very small distance, or degree; a hairbreadth.
    Just a little louder please—turn that knob a hair to the right.

Usage notes[edit]

The word hair is usually used without article in singular number when it refers to all the hairs on one's head in general. But if it refers to more than one hair, a few hairs, then it takes the plural form without an article, and needs a plural verb.

George has (-) brown hair, but I found a hair on the sofa and suspect he's getting some gray hairs.
George's hair is brown, but one hair I found was grey, so I think there are probably more grey hairs on his head as well.

Adjectives often applied to "hair": long, short, curly, straight, dark, blonde, black, brown, red, blue, green, purple, coarse, fine, healthy, damaged, beautiful, perfect, natural, dyed.

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.


Most common English words before 1923: send · peace · glad · #570: hair · ran · important · mine






  1. h-prothesized form of air



  1. h-prothesized form of air