Definition of whisker in US English:

whisker

noun

  • 1A long projecting hair or bristle growing from the face or snout of many mammals.

    • ‘They are able to sense very minute vibrations in the ground, and feel their way through total darkness with their paws and whiskers.’
    • ‘It has a nose like a dog's, teeth like a leopard's, and whiskers like an otter's.’
    • ‘Traders sell tiger products such as skin, teeth, claws and whiskers, mostly as ingredients in traditional Chinese medicines.’
    • ‘Finally, the cat sat in the middle of the street washing himself, lifting first one paw and then the other to clean his ears and whiskers.’
    • ‘The entire area under the tree was soaked and the dog was muddy from the whiskers on his cheeks to the bottom of his short tail.’
    • ‘Nocturnal animals, binturongs do most of their hunting at night, using their long whiskers as ‘tools’ for sensing food.’
    • ‘Eyeballs, whiskers, blood and even tiger nose are among the parts used for their perceived curative properties.’
    • ‘Every once in a while, particularly when I take out clothes that I haven't worn since our move, I find a cat whisker or a dog hair.’
    • ‘Smooth-coated otters are agile in the water and on land and use their sensitive whiskers to detect water disturbances.’
    • ‘The bearded pig is distinguished by its elongated head, narrow body, and abundant chin whiskers.’
    • ‘I'm an extremely light sleeper, and once woken - even by the faint brush of our kitten's whiskers on my arm - I stay that way.’
    • ‘Long-tailed weasels have a small, narrow head with long whiskers.’
    • ‘Both the bobcat and lynx have sideburn cheek whiskers and beards.’
    • ‘Padded feet, keen night vision and sensitive whiskers enable silent movement through dense undergrowth at night.’
    • ‘Looking into her eyes and reaching up a bit nervously, I take my hand and rub the backs of my fingers through the soft downy fur of her cheek, avoiding her whiskers which might be sensitive, and the blood on her muzzle.’
    • ‘Discovered in Laos, Southeast Asia, the animal is described as an ‘oddball rodent’ with long whiskers, stubby legs, and a furry tail.’
    • ‘Tiger whiskers, eyes, brains, tails, and bones, in particular, are used in traditional remedies believed to cure ailments ranging from toothache to epilepsy.’
    • ‘Another notable mode of sensation in cats are whiskers, or vibrissae.’
    • ‘The cat obediently came and sat at her feet, his whiskers brushing her throat.’
    • ‘He thinks the seals may detect prey by means of their whiskers, detecting the ‘wake’ of fish as they pass by.’
    1. 1.1whiskers The hair growing on a man's face, especially on his cheeks.
      • ‘He was a stout older Scot by the name of Ian, with whiskers of a beard, and a rough voice, but had a kind heart.’
      • ‘Abraham Lincoln grew his whiskers in the months between his election and inauguration, making full beards ubiquitous during the Civil War that dominated his presidency.’
      • ‘His red eyebrows and sandy whiskers suggest a Scot or Irish background, which carries some particular negative associations for a 19th-century audience.’
      • ‘The Emperor Franz Josef favoured equally luxuriant mutton-chop whiskers - effectively a beard, with the chin shaven.’
      • ‘Thick, bristly, black whiskers that covered the lower half of his face told the two shipmates that he hadn't shaved in a long while.’
      • ‘He wore a checkered cloak over a sweater or two and heavy trousers, sported a full dark moustache and whiskers, he seemed a pensive type, sallow-faced and quiet.’
      • ‘Mr. Gershwin, a rather catlike man with an intelligent face and bristly whiskers, began.’
      • ‘Since the mustache part of General Burnside's invention was nothing new, the cheek whiskers became known as ‘Burnsides’ and enjoyed a certain vogue among men of the day.’
      • ‘His uniform - the one he'd always worn - was green with age and his whiskers were grey and bristly.’
      • ‘The examiner was a Dr Bull, an elderly anatomy lecturer of rather Victorian appearance, with mutton-chop whiskers and beetling eyebrows.’
      • ‘A wiry old man appeared, a bit shorter than average height, sporting a button-collar and sleeves over small pot-belly and mutton-chop whiskers from the decades past.’
      • ‘While Peter's normal hairstyle wasn't changed in any way, he was given whiskers and a moustache.’
      • ‘If we closed our eyes, we could almost see men with mutton-chop whiskers and stem expressions, and women with cinched waists and skirts with floor-sweeping trains.’
      facial hair, whiskers, stubble, designer stubble, five o'clock shadow, bristles
      View synonyms
  • 2a whiskerinformal A very small amount.

    ‘they won the election by a whisker’
    • ‘This release just missed the cut on the last missive by a whisker and a bit.’
    • ‘I intuit Blair will win the election by a whisker.’
    • ‘While its volumes are down, it managed to increase its segment share, if only by a whisker.’
    • ‘This year, for example, the amount given to Republicans is just a whisker more than $1 million.’
    • ‘All parties cancelled their final rallies, and the next day the Blue camp, which had started with a comfortable lead in the polls, lost by a whisker - some 30,000 votes, or 0.2 percent of the vote.’
  • 3A single crystal of a material in the form of a filament with no dislocations.

    • ‘However, these materials were still too weak to support their own weight without tapering, although in the case of graphite whiskers the taper ratio was a more manageable 100.’
    • ‘The particles may be carbon fibers, carbon black, carbon whiskers, coated hollow microspheres, or a combination thereof.’
    • ‘Chlamydomonas strains were transformed according to the silicon carbide whisker method of DUNAHAY 1993, with the following modifications.’
  • 4A spar for extending the clews of a sail so that it can catch more wind.

    • ‘Between the whiskers and the fore-mast.’

Phrases

  • within a whisker of

    • informal Extremely close or near to doing, achieving, or suffering something.

      • ‘To date, the stunning 23-year-old has come within a whisker of winning the Sunday Life Cover Girl Competition.’
      • ‘Having reached the last 32 of the Boddingtons team darts championship, the Swan & Railway from Radcliffe came within a whisker of taking the top prize.’
      • ‘As the center's initial three-year grant drew to a close, CTFA came within a whisker of pulling its support.’
      • ‘He said the SRA wanted to scrap the route to shave a couple of minutes off the Manchester to London journey time, bringing it within a whisker of two hours.’
      • ‘They were, he continued, within a whisker of making it through to the All Ireland semi-finals when they had victory snatched from their grasp.’
      • ‘Premier Nick Greiner played up his substantial lead in the polls and subsequently found himself within a whisker of losing government.’
      • ‘The judge told him: ‘You came within a whisker of custody.’’
      • ‘Last week the Daily Star's circulation came within a whisker of the million mark, a new benchmark for the tabloid, which has boosted sales with giveaways including bags of chips and free betting.’
      • ‘The North Yorkshire Under 18s came within a whisker of ending Merseyside's domination when they were pipped 25-24.’
      • ‘As a result of those finds, Cairn's shares have risen in steady steps from £4 to within a whisker of £15 today.’

Origin

Late Middle English (originally denoting a bundle of feathers, twigs, etc., used for whisking): from the verb whisk + -er.

Pronunciation

whisker

/ˈ(h)wiskər//ˈ(h)wɪskər/