Definition of beard in English:



  • 1A growth of hair on the chin and lower cheeks of a man's face.

    ‘he had a black beard’
    mass noun ‘three days' growth of beard’
    • ‘He washed his face and shaved his nightly growth of a beard.’
    • ‘The two six-year-old boys described the man who approached them as white, aged about 40, with some beard growth on his chin.’
    • ‘He had even taken the time to dye his beard and hair black.’
    • ‘Instead, I've tried to ignore it, but whether I shave off my goatee, grow a beard or cut my hair, the resemblance won't go away.’
    • ‘His long, tangled hair joined with his beard, his long black leather coat was clad with silver chains and spikes, as were his solid boots.’
    • ‘I'm also cultivating a tiny beard under my lower lip but purely because I quite liked tugging on it.’
    • ‘He had short black hair with a black beard and what has been described as ‘sores’ on his face.’
    • ‘They contain more blood than essence in men, and thus promote the growth of the beard and body hair.’
    • ‘They are young; they wear fatigues and sport long black hair and beards.’
    • ‘A little beard definitely makes my cheeks look a bit fuller, which can only be a good thing.’
    • ‘His suit was dark, his hair dyed black, his beard full and neat.’
    • ‘The giveaways are the white beard, ruddy cheeks and pet cat draped round his neck like a fur stole.’
    • ‘Euthenas giggled as the whiskery hairs of his beard tickled her cheeks.’
    • ‘He had white skin, a trimmed beard, small black eyes and short-cropped hair around a bald spot.’
    • ‘He was tall and muscular with shaggy black hair with a beard.’
    • ‘The man was a giant, with a large flowing mane of jet black hair and a beard to match.’
    • ‘He had long shaggy dirty blond hair almost completely covering his eyes; he had a two-day-old beard forming on his cheeks and chin.’
    • ‘She laid her head back on his shoulder, taking pleasure in the soft, dry texture of his trim beard against her cheek.’
    • ‘The other was 5ft 9in with short black hair and a beard.’
    • ‘After completing their career courses, captains arrive at new duty stations wearing Bermuda shorts, Birkenstocks, and 3-day growths of beards.’
    facial hair, whiskers, stubble, designer stubble, five o'clock shadow, bristles
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A tuft of hair on the chin of certain mammals, for example a lion or goat.
      • ‘The goat has dilute glaze on its forehead and upper beard.’
      • ‘The small head is solid gold in colour, with a happy, playful expression, wide square jaw and a red beard.’
      • ‘Both males and females are brown to dark-gray with light beards and dark faces.’
      • ‘The tail is short and tipped with black; ears have long black tufts and cheeks have long pale ruffs which form a pointed beard at the throat.’
      • ‘Most of them show an animal with cloven hoofs and a beard like a goat, or sometimes a mane like a horse.’
    2. 1.2 An animal's growth or marking that is likened to a beard, for example the gills of an oyster, or the beak bristles of certain birds.
      • ‘The beard and whiskers are white or grey, the forehead band and mane are white to yellow-white.’
      • ‘A bird shot by a 9-year-old of Lebanon set new Oregon state records for weight, beard length and overall score.’
      • ‘Turkey beards (likened to human scalps) were used for some of the vertical elements of traditional Osage hair roaches.’
      • ‘The Ameraucana has a tail, muffs, and a beard around its face.’
      • ‘Many of the larger hatcheries claim to sell araucanas, but instead are selling americanas, which have a tail and a beard instead of tufts, or Easter Egg chickens, which can look like anything as they are only part araucana.’
    3. 1.3 A tuft of hairs or bristles on certain plants, especially the awn of a grass.
      • ‘I've named it after Henri Becquerel in honour of the plant's peculiar beard.’
      • ‘Our wheat does have a beard, but not as itchy as a barley awn.’
      • ‘The beard and branches are cut off to leave only the best part of the ginseng, however the head is left on for consumers to better assess the quality of the herb.’
      • ‘Each grain is covered with a husk called the ‘lemma’ which may or may not have a long hair or ‘beard’ on the tip; modern wheats include bearded and beardless varieties.’
      • ‘Decorate each ‘ear’ with two leaves and spun sugar to resemble corn beards.’
      • ‘The strands of barley's beard can get stuck in an animals mouth because it is sharp.’
  • 2US informal A person who carries out a transaction, typically a bet, for someone else in order to conceal the other's identity.

    ‘the beard permitted the manipulator to protect the odds’
    • ‘So beards, carrying their myriad associations with dissent and disorder, shiftiness and oddness, are considered dangerous vote - losers.’
    • ‘Customers found opening or using multiple accounts or masking their true identity "beards" will forfeit all winnings.’
    • ‘When a betable edge between their results and the line is seen, their movers or beards pound the books.’
    • ‘Beards can be anyone and can be found in casino-based sportsbooks and even online books.’
    • ‘But what's to stop someone from betting $50,000 at a book with a limit of $1,000 from simply arranging for 49 other people (the "movers" or "beards") to bet $1,000 each for him?’
  • 3North American informal A woman who accompanies a homosexual man as an escort to a social occasion, in order to help conceal his homosexuality.

    ‘the closeted male and his female ‘beard’’
    • ‘One of her very gay friends has a Hampton wedding to his very female beard.’
    • ‘A beard is an accessory that adds a rough layer of macho to a very made-up silver screen image.’
    • ‘True, their female beard friend is over in the isolation booth but there's nothing really gay about the "altered" photo.’
    • ‘So they decided to obscure their relationship, taking a female pal along as Sie's de facto beard.’
    • ‘His wife Linda was not just a “beard,” though.’


[with object]
  • Boldly confront or challenge (someone formidable)

    ‘he was afraid to beard the sultan himself’
    • ‘Vida away, Elsie and Aileen teaching, so I was left to beard the dragon.’
    • ‘Is this, at bottom, about international order or is it really about bearding the Americans and glorifying France?’
    • ‘But at least by bearding MacDiarmid, Muir drew out into the open the issue of language which continues to occupy - if not preoccupy - Scottish poets today.’
    • ‘I missed my daily dose of Prof. Quiggin for a week or so, due to his spam crisis, so I didn't notice that the Professor's commenters were already bearding this interesting question…’
    • ‘The man was bearded and wore a shiny suit and a red leather tie.’
    • ‘Cue Albertz on Friday, bursting into the Sunday assembly and bearding my colleague, the sepulchral Hugh Keevins, accusing him of invention, hyperbole and all manner of crimes against the natural order.’
    confront, face, challenge, brave, come face to face with, meet head on
    View synonyms


  • beard the lion in his den (or lair)

    • Confront or challenge someone on their own ground.

      • ‘She's got to face her demons, beard the lion in his den.’
      • ‘Wole Soyinka is one of those writers who subscribe to bearding the lion in his den.’
      • ‘The answer was obvious: beard the lion in his den.’
      • ‘She bearded the lion in his den with a revelation-packed bombing campaign, attempting to beat him into coalition.’
      • ‘As the saying goes, beard the lion in his den.’
      • ‘No one wanted to undertake the venture of bearding the lion in his den.’
      • ‘The Spaniards had bearded the lion in his den, and were in a position of extreme peril should the cacique prove hostile.’
      • ‘That said the former Johnstownbridge was no more than cautiously optimistic about bearding the Royal lion in his Navan lair in a fortnight's time in the first round of the Leinster championship.’
      • ‘And so might I, with profit to us all, beard the lion in his den, and failing if fail I must, succeed.’
      • ‘In the end, it came down to the fact that this wonderful Moorefield team was just a bit too young for the task in hand, bearding the Nobber lions in their picturesque North Meath lair in a keenly contested Leinster JFC final on Sunday.’
      • ‘Deciding to beard the lion in his den, I visit Dr. Gerald Imber, a Fifth Avenue plastic surgeon.’
      • ‘So, to put it in a nutshell, you must grab the bull by the horns and beard the lion in his den.’
      • ‘By this time we were willing to try anything, so he turned up early the next day prepared to beard the lion in his den.’
      • ‘So he performs yet another act of selflessness and goes to beard the lion in his den.’
      • ‘She would meet Julius, persuade him to her point of view, and they would beard the lion in his den.’
      • ‘Now I suppose I am bearding the lion in his den, when I state that one of the planks of the platform is that we ask for an immediate, and substantial, and all-round reduction of the customs tariff-a substantial, immediate and all-round reduction of the customs tariff.’
      • ‘To come after it was to beard the lion in his den; to go without it was to blister in the sun.’
      • ‘This was somewhat like bearding the lion in his den; and so it needed delicate handling.’
      • ‘This, however, was bearding the lion in his den, the lady being cared for in a milder way by the authorities, while James returned home.’
      • ‘Believing that what was good to practice was good to preach, I concluded that I would risk a course of procedure that is sometimes called bearding the lion in his den.’


Old English, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch baard and German Bart.