AskDefine | Define comb

Dictionary Definition



1 a flat device with narrow pointed teeth on one edge; disentangles or arranges hair
2 the fleshy red crest on the head of the domestic fowl and other gallinaceous birds [syn: cockscomb, coxcomb]
3 a fleshy and deeply serrated outgrowth atop the heads of certain birds especially domestic fowl
4 any of several tools for straightening fibers
5 ciliated comb-like swimming plate of a ctenophore
6 the act of drawing a comb through hair; "his hair needed a comb" [syn: combing]


1 straighten with a comb; "comb your hair"; "comb the wool"
2 search thoroughly; "They combed the area for the missing child" [syn: ransack]
3 smoothen and neaten with or as with a comb; "comb your hair before dinner"; "comb the wool" [syn: comb out, disentangle]

User Contributed Dictionary




Old English camb


  1. A toothed implement for grooming the hair.
  2. A machine used in separating choice cotton fibers from worsted cloth fibers.
  3. A fleshy growth on the top of the head of some birds and reptiles: crest.
  4. An old English measure of corn equal to the half quarter.
    • 1882, But the comb or half quarter is very general in the Eastern counties, particularly in Norfolk. — James Edwin Thorold Rogers, A History of Agriculture and Prices in England, Volume 4, page 207.
  5. The top part of a gun’s stock.

Related terms


toothed implement for grooming the hair
fleshy growth on the top of the head of some birds and reptiles


  1. To groom the hair with a toothed implement.
  2. To separate choice cotton fibers from worsted cloth fibers.
  3. To search thoroughly as if raking over an area with a comb.


to groom the hair with a toothed implement
to separate choice cotton fibers from worsted cloth fibers
to search thoroughly as if raking over an area with a comb



hu-noun ok

Extensive Definition

A comb is a device made of solid material, generally flat, always toothed, and is used in hair care for straightening and cleaning hair or other fibers. Combs are among the oldest tools found by archeologists, having been found in very refined forms already in settlements dating back to 5000 years ago in Persia.
Combs can be used for many purposes, including:
  • Keeping long hair in place.
  • Decorating the hair.
  • Matting sections of hair for dreadlocking
  • Keeping a kippa in place.
  • Separating cotton fibers from seeds and other debris. The cotton gin, a mechanized version of the comb, is one of the machines that ushered the Industrial Revolution.
  • Making music. Stringing a plant's leaf or a piece of paper over one side of the comb and humming with cropped lips on the opposite side dramatically increases the high-frequency harmonic content of the hum produced by the human voice box, and the resulting spread sound spectrum can be modulated by changing the resonanting frequency of the oral cavity. This was the inspiration for the kazoo. Moreover, the comb is also a lamellophone. Comb teeth have harmonic qualities of their own, determined by their shape, length, and material. A comb with teeth of unequal length, capable of producing different notes when picked, eventually evolved into the thumb piano and musical box.
  • Making comb-marbled paper
Combs are also a favorite spot for police investigators to collect hair and dandruff samples that can be used in ascertaining dead or living people's identities, as well as their state of health, toxicological profiles, and so forth.
Sharing combs is a common source of parasitic infections, as one user can leave a comb with plenty of eggs or even live parasites, facilitating the transmission of lice, fleas, crabs, mites, fungi, and other undesirables.
In contrast, specialized combs such as "flea combs" or "nit combs" can be used to remove macroscopic parasites. A comb with teeth fine enough to remove nits is sometimes callef a "fine-toothed comb", sometimes misrendered as "fine toothcomb" or merely "toothcomb" in the metaphoric usage "go over it with a fine toothcomb" meaning a close detailed search of something.
Combs can be made out of a number of materials, most commonly wood or plastic. Ivory and tortoiseshell were once common but concerns for the animals that produce them have reduced their usage. When made from wood, Combs are largely made of boxwood, cherry wood or other pine wood. Good quality wooden combs are usually handmade and polished.
A hairbrush, which is larger than a comb, is also commonly used for shaping, styling and cleaning the hair.
comb in Tosk Albanian: Kamm
comb in Aymara: Sanu
comb in Bengali: চিরুনি
comb in German: Kamm
comb in Spanish: Peine
comb in French: Peigne de coiffure
comb in Indonesian: Sisir
comb in Italian: Pettine
comb in Javanese: Jungkat
comb in Dutch: Kam (verzorging)
comb in Dutch Low Saxon: Reikam
comb in Japanese: 櫛
comb in Narom: Dêmêleux
comb in Polish: Grzebień (przedmiot)
comb in Simple English: Comb
comb in Swedish: Kam
comb in Tamil: சீப்பு
comb in Telugu: దువ్వెన
comb in Ukrainian: Гребінь
comb in Chinese: 梳

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

be poised, beat, billow, break, card, crash, curry, dash, ebb and flow, examine, forage, grub, hackle, hatchel, heave, heckle, inspect, investigate, lift, look all over, look everywhere, peak, popple, probe, rake, ransack, rifle, rise, rise and fall, roll, rummage, scend, scour, scrutinize, search, search high heaven, send, separate, shake, shake down, sift, smash, surge, swell, toss, turn inside out, turn upside down, undulate, wave, winnow
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