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A.Word.A.Day--sideburns

Pronunciation Sound Clip RealAudio

Over the years we have featured weeks of words about words, we have had words about birds, and now it's time for, well, words about beards.

Are bearded people irritating? While some find a beard on a man attractive, it repels others. Like barbed wire, literally speaking. The words barb, barber, rebarbative, and beard are derived from the same root: Latin barba (beard). And though many bards have beards, there is no connection between the two words.

Though most men have only a fleeting interest in pogonotrophy (growing of a beard, from Greek pogon, beard + -trophy, nourishment or growth), growing it now, shaving it when the fancy strikes, for some, beards are a serious business. There's even a biennial championship event for the bearded.

This week we'll see five words having to do with facial hair. They are pure beard words as the week starts out, and like beards growing slender at the bottom, as the week ends the connection becomes slender too.

sideburns (SYDE-burnz) plural noun

Hair grown on the sides of a man's face, when worn with an unbearded chin.

[After Ambrose Everett Burnside (1824-1881), who served as a general in the Union Army in the American Civil War, and who earned more recognition for his side whiskers than for his military career. Eventually the term burnsides morphed into sideburns as such a facial pattern was on the sides of a face.]

See more usage examples of sideburns in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

-Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)

"Queensland paramedics claim they have been threatened with the sack unless they shave off their beards, moustaches and sideburns." Darrell Giles; Paramedics' Facial Hair Threat; The Sunday Mail (Brisbane, Australia); Apr 20, 2008.

X-Bonus

It is better to have loafed and lost than never to have loafed at all. -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)

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