Definition of hair in US English:



  • 1Any of the fine threadlike strands growing from the skin of humans, mammals, and some other animals.

    • ‘She also couldn't help but notice how handsome he was with his black hair and darker skin tone.’
    • ‘The animal was approaching quickly down the trail, its hair bristling.’
    • ‘Nose, ears, and feet are covered with dark sepia hairs and the tail hairs are almost black.’
    • ‘A thick white coat of hollow hairs provides good insulation from the arctic climate.’
    • ‘It was a day when the fine hairs on your skin seem to crinkle up in the sun.’
    • ‘Her eyes were an intense chocolate and her thick, black hair fell to the bottom of her back.’
    • ‘There was a man at the bus stop with a mole this morning - the kind of mole that grows thick black hairs.’
    • ‘There skin was darkened and their black hair fell down to the middle of their backs.’
    • ‘Bristle-like hairs associated with claws of the hind feet form a sort of comb, probably used in grooming.’
    • ‘The gene is known to help determine hair color in many mammals, from humans to mice.’
    • ‘The entire body and limbs were covered with a thick fine hair or wool curling tightly to the skin.’
    • ‘But what most people will see when they look at me is the black hair and pale skin, right?’
    • ‘The creature was covered from mouth to tailfin in thick, bristly hairs.’
    • ‘Strands of her black hair fell into her face and she brushed them out of the way.’
    • ‘The oils are rapidly absorbed through skin although the hair on animal skin makes it difficult to apply them.’
    • ‘Strands of her black hair fell smoothly to the sides when she shook her head in declination.’
    • ‘Holly suddenly moved her head, and a few strands of her black hair fell across her face.’
    • ‘The time of year that the animal was killed has a bearing on how well the hair stays in the skin, making trapping in the winter the best time to hunt for pelts.’
    • ‘Stripes sometimes occur on the tail, but more often the tail is composed of both black and white hairs intermixed.’
    • ‘They are covered with dense, long, shaggy fur made up of thick hairs with longitudinal grooves.’
    fur, wool
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    1. 1.1 A fine threadlike strand growing from the epidermis of a plant, or forming part of a living cell.
      • ‘Stems and leaves have a fringe of fine hairs that are particularly appealing when plants are side- or back-lit by the sun.’
      • ‘Other plants will produce thick cuticle or reflective hairs to reduce the amount of light and heat they receive.’
      • ‘Plastid morphogenesis in trichome hair cells from the stem and petiole of tomato plants.’
      • ‘The cuticular hairs formed by epidermal cells are not the only examples of cellular projections found in Drosophila.’
      • ‘The fine hairs of loquat leaves can irritate the throat so these are brushed off.’
      • ‘They release tiny hairs which can cause a severe rash if they come into contact with a person's skin.’
      • ‘All details of her woodcarvings, even the villi, or small hairs on the stem of each plant, are done by hand with a knife.’
      • ‘The leaf surfaces of almost all plant species possess specialized epidermal cell types that form hairs or trichomes.’
      • ‘Plants have bark and hairs and, above all, toxins.’
      • ‘The fine hairs on this flower come off and float around in the tea.’
      • ‘They have tiny hairs which contain toxins and if you come into contact with enough of them you can come out in a nasty rash.’
      • ‘When infestations are heavy, leaf hairs become matted and flower buds fail to open.’
  • 2Hairs collectively, especially those growing on a person's head.

    ‘a woman with shoulder-length fair hair’
    as modifier ‘a hair salon’
    • ‘She was strikingly good-looking, with long, wavy, fair hair, a cute face and bulbous lips.’
    • ‘She was a moderately young woman with long fair hair twining around a gaudy hairpin.’
    • ‘The bag snatcher was described as white, in his 30s, with fair, sandy hair.’
    • ‘With a mane of shaggy white hair and beard, he looked like the archetypal wild old man of the woods.’
    • ‘Her soft, wispy fair hair had been pulled into a loose bun at the back of her head and tied with a black ribbon.’
    • ‘They neither shave, nor have a haircut, allowing their beards and hair to grow long.’
    • ‘She has brown eyes, very long dark brown hair, a fair complexion and a brace on her teeth.’
    • ‘Jessica is tanned and has shoulder-length brown hair while Holly is fair and has blonde hair.’
    • ‘The darker your skin, the more likely you are to see changes; if you're very fair or have red hair you may not notice any at all.’
    • ‘The second man was white, between 40 to 45 years old, with grey shoulder length hair and a beard.’
    • ‘He was wearing a light-coloured t-shirt and had short cropped fair to ginger hair.’
    • ‘Her shoulder length hair had grown down to her back and gone from straight to curly.’
    • ‘The woman was described as white, in her early twenties, long fair hair.’
    • ‘She was very clean and smart looking, with her fair hair always tied back neatly in a ponytail.’
    • ‘Those vivid green eyes stood out against his fair complexion and dark hair.’
    • ‘The little girl with fair hair and twinkling eyes laughed with sheer joy and said it would be her best Christmas ever.’
    • ‘He has a thick brown beard and shoulder length brown hair that curls ever so slightly.’
    • ‘He is thought to be in his mid - to-late 20s, of stocky build with short fair hair.’
    • ‘He is white, tall, in his 20s, clean-shaven with short, dark hair and no facial hair.’
    • ‘When ever you talk about being on the road, and other times, you mention your beard or facial hair.’
    head of hair, shock of hair, mop of hair, mane
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  • 3a hairA very small quantity or extent.

    ‘his magic takes him a hair above the competition’
    • ‘On the whole, readings ended up just a hair above normal.’
    • ‘It's family style, you pay a lot of money for it, and the food is a hair above the other restaurant.’
    • ‘But just a hair above a majority of his votes came from a secularized portion of society.’
    • ‘She's gorgeous and all but I'd still put her a hair below my favorite of the night.’


  • hair of the dog

    • informal An alcoholic drink taken to cure a hangover.

      • ‘A heavy night of drinking might be followed by a glass of salted water poured from the jar containing pickled cucumbers - a well-tested Russian hangover cure - accompanied by a shot of vodka as hair of the dog.’
      • ‘Well, a little hair of the dog would settle that.’
      • ‘Have you ever taken a drink in the morning to relieve the symptoms of alcohol (commonly known as hair of the dog or an eye-opener)?’
      • ‘I'm sure we'll be there, indulging in mad gayness and a little 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.’
      • ‘They also had steaming mugs of hot coffee, laced with a hair of the dog that bit them for fortification.’
      • ‘The hair of the dog that bit you is a dangerous slope but try a classic Bloody Mary, including basil leaves, Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, two shots of vodka and four shots of tomato juice.’
      • ‘No need for hair of the dog and standing against accusations of being an alcoholic that way.’
      • ‘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.’
  • in (or out of) someone's hair

    • informal Annoying (or ceasing to annoy) someone.

      ‘I'm glad he's out of my hair’
      • ‘‘As long as the youngsters are out of their hair, parents don't care.’’
      • ‘You have just fast-tracked this to get us out of your hair.’’
      • ‘The wired bedroom works well for parents who want to keep their kids pacified and out of their hair, but it offers too many nocturnal temptations for even the most disciplined of students.’
      • ‘I was sort of glad to get these guys out of my hair for a few hours, a day or two.’
      • ‘Mum and Dad were especially excited to send me to my first school camp - I thought they were pleased to see me growing up, not keen to get me out of their hair for a week.’
      • ‘Her parents were probably more than glad to get her out of their hair.’
      • ‘I've really enjoyed working on the piece, but I'm very, very glad to get it out of my hair, at least temporarily…’
      • ‘They can't wait to get rid of you, put you out of their home, get you to return home, stop you from calling them all the time, just get you out of their hair someway by hook or crook.’
      • ‘With this note she would probably not want to come home early, but I'm going to stay out of your hair, I promise!’
      • ‘So there should be plenty of room to build that addition you'll want to keep those crazy teenage martyrs out of your 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
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  • let one's hair down

    • informal Behave in an uninhibited or relaxed manner.

      ‘let your hair down and just have some fun’
      • ‘This week has a nice surprise with your name on it - so stop work, let your hair down and enjoy it.’
      • ‘She had forgotten how great it felt to just let her hair down and get loose with the ones she held dearest.’
      • ‘They should be jolly occasions, a chance to let your hair down and enjoy yourself, but there's always the nightmare of what to wear.’
      • ‘A short vacation allows you to let your hair down and enjoy natural surroundings with a loved one.’
      • ‘It is also to let your hair down, unwind and enjoy yourself.’
      • ‘The evening is a chance for people to let their hair down and enjoy some great racing.’
      • ‘Secretaries, spouses, their children and the bosses were there, letting their hair down literally and enjoying themselves.’
      • ‘People choose to go there on holiday to let their hair down and enjoy themselves.’
      • ‘It's a frenetic fortnight when people let their hair down and enjoy themselves to the full.’
      • ‘They also have the chance to let their hair down and enjoy a drink or two and party the night away!’
      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
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  • make someone's hair stand on end

    • Alarm or horrify someone.

      • ‘He was a good friend, a close colleague, someone who fearlessly undertook assignments that would make 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.’
      • ‘The traffic system would make your hair stand on end.’
      • ‘I have phone bills that would make your hair stand on end.’
      • ‘A roar erupted from the trees behind him, making his hair stand on end.’
      • ‘If I told you the fights we had over this golden anniversary, it would make your hair stand on end.’
      • ‘Soon after the cars were loaded, a rumor started to spread that made Ava's hair stand on end.’
      • ‘If you talk to people in the private sector about what happens in universities, it makes your hair stand on end.’
      • ‘And even knowing that the credit card bill is going to make my hair stand on end, life is pretty goddamn okay right now.’
      • ‘Howls that did not belong to wolves filled the air and made Lee's hair stand on end.’
      horrify, shock, appal, scandalize, dismay, stun
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  • not a hair out of place

    • Used to convey that a person is extremely neat and tidy in appearance.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Eliza said that she had just gone to the movies, but she was wearing a very expensive tailored suit in pearl gray, with not a hair out of place.’
      • ‘Because I wished I were Joanna - tall, cool and calm, with not a hair out of place.’
      • ‘All day in the park with Fido and not a hair out of place.’
      • ‘Seeing her like that upset me as all my life I'd seen her look perfect not a hair out of place… but now she looked like a shadow of her former self.’
      • ‘His mustache was neatly trimmed and his hair meticulously combed, not a hair out of place.’
      • ‘A moment later Kelley walked into the kitchen dressed immaculately in a crisp white shirt and blue jeans, not a hair out of place.’
      • ‘At the end of the day, there were all these 18-year-olds sitting on the floor, sweating and exhausted, and there was this 57-year-old woman, not a hair out of place.’
      • ‘‘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.’
      • ‘He turned around, not a hair out of place, the pen poking out the top of his breast pocket.’
  • not turn a hair

    • Remain apparently unmoved or unaffected.

      ‘the old woman didn't turn a hair; she just sat quietly rocking’
      • ‘She's so used to maltreated children that she doesn't turn a hair when they arrive covered in lice, or riddled with worms.’
      • ‘Now, if you are fortunate to have one of those ex-racers who is so grateful to be off the track that they don't turn a hair when you get on them, and walk around quiet and flat-footed from day one, you can begin to introduce the other gaits.’
      • ‘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
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  • split hairs

    • Make small and overfine distinctions.

      • ‘Yes, I do see the distinction and am perhaps splitting hairs over the delivery of the message.’
      • ‘But even as the scientists and the Government split hairs over whether more stringent standards are required for bottled water, the consumers have no option but to go for what is available in the market.’
      • ‘By this point we were probably splitting hairs.’
      • ‘It may come down to semantics and splitting hairs, but it doesn't actually say anywhere in the constitution that Japan can't have an army.’
      • ‘I hate to split hairs here, but there's a difference between ‘might not be true’ and ‘knew the info was false.’’
      • ‘One of the things I want to do is give this site a desperately needed spring-clean (yes, it's winter, but let's not split hairs, shall we?).’
      • ‘Okay, so maybe I'm splitting hairs, but whatever the case may be, it is delicious and I gorged myself on it this Thanksgiving weekend.’
      • ‘I'm not splitting hairs - TV is different from real life.’
      • ‘I'm perhaps splitting hairs, here, but there has got to be a difference between drawing influence from various sources and plagiarizing.’
      • ‘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.’’
      quibble, raise trivial objections, find fault, cavil, carp, niggle, argue over nothing
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  • put hair on one's chest

    • informal (of an alcoholic drink) be very strong.

      • ‘My grandmother told me that drinking hard liquor would ‘put hair on your chest.’’
      • ‘The Baron ordered the chef to change the lamb ragu to a more ‘manly’ dish: lamb shank, a dish that puts hair on your chest.’
      • ‘He said it would put hair on your chest.’
      • ‘Salty, spicy and undeniably bold, this cocktail will put hair on your chest and a song in your heart.’
      • ‘But there wasn't any way I'd take up his offer: since childhood, I've been scared stupid over any consumable offered to me with claims it'd put hair on my chest.’


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