One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Long stiff hairs growing around the mouth or elsewhere on the face of many mammals, used as organs of touch; whiskers.
- ‘They also have large vibrissae, stiff whisker-like hairs above the upper lip and at the corners of the mouth.’
- ‘Another notable mode of sensation in cats are whiskers, or vibrissae.’
- ‘Rather, they find food via the sensitive touch of their 600 to 700 vibrissae, or whiskers, which have been likened to multifingered hands on the animals' snouts.’
- ‘They use their vibrissae as sensing organs underwater to monitor the movements of fishes and other prey.’
- ‘Whiskers, also known as vibrissae are touch receptors that provide the animal with information about its immediate surroundings.’
- 1.1Ornithology Coarse bristle-like feathers growing around the gape of certain insectivorous birds that catch insects in flight.
Late 17th century: from Latin, literally ‘nostril hairs’.
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