\ ˈkōm How to pronounce comb (audio) \

Definition of comb

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : a toothed instrument used especially for adjusting, cleaning, or confining hair
b : a structure resembling such a comb especially : any of several toothed devices used in handling or ordering textile fibers
c : currycomb
2a : a fleshy crest on the head of the domestic chicken and other domestic birds
b : something (such as the ridge of a roof) resembling the comb of a cock
3 : honeycomb


combed; combing; combs

Definition of comb (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to draw a comb through for the purpose of arranging or cleaning
2 : to pass across with a scraping or raking action
3a : to eliminate (as with a comb) by a thorough going-over
b : to search or examine systematically police are combing the city
4 : to use in a combing action

intransitive verb

1 of a wave or its crest : to roll over or break into foam
2 : to make a thorough search comb through the classified ads

Definition of comb (Entry 3 of 3)

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Other Words from comb


combed \ ˈkōmd How to pronounce combed (audio) \ adjective
comblike \ ˈkōm-​ˌlīk How to pronounce comblike (audio) \ adjective

Examples of comb in a Sentence


He combed back his hair. The wool is combed before being spun into yarn. We combed the beach for shells.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Use a tiny, rat-tail comb to get the cleanest-looking split. Maya Allen, Marie Claire, "13 Gorgeous Cornrows Photos to Inspire Your Next Look," 30 Jan. 2019 Use a wide tooth comb and lightly tease using large motions. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Gigi Hadid Appears on the September "Vogue Brazil" Cover," 29 Aug. 2018 Each already contains an actively-laying queen and five frames of comb. Blair Donovan, Country Living, "Beekeeping for Beginners: Everything to Know About Starting Your Own Colony," 5 Apr. 2019 Add decorative trays to display perfume bottles, compacts, flower arrangements, tortoiseshell combs, and candles. Heather Corcoran, ELLE Decor, "How to Bring Old Hollywood Into Your Home," 19 Mar. 2019 Bungee-jumping in Madagascar won’t make up for three crummy marriages or a really bad comb-over. Joe Queenan, WSJ, "It’s Time to Kick the Bucket List," 20 July 2018 Here's a beauty fun fact: Clean, dried mascara wands double as combs to remove fly eggs and larvae from animal fur. Leah Prinzivalli, Allure, "Wet n Wild Is Donating Proceeds of Its New Lash Renegade Mascara Shade to Wands for Wildlife," 30 May 2018 Dress up a simple hair comb with pretty embellishments. Sarah Newell, Seventeen, "15 Amazing Prom Hacks To Make It Your Most Stylish Night Ever," 6 Jan. 2017 Lift hair in small sections, backcomb each section two or three times using a fine-tooth plastic comb, spray with dry shampoo, and then comb the hair down on top lightly to smooth it out and hide the teasing. Amy Marturana, SELF, "17 Styling Tricks Women with Fine, Flat Hair Need to Know," 21 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Van der Veen said forensics experts were still combing the scene hours after the attack and detectives were investigating the man's motive. Fox News, "Dutch police shoot suspect after 2 stabbed at train station," 31 Aug. 2018 Nasart Rahimi, a deputy spokesman at the Interior Ministry, said security forces were combing Ghazni on Tuesday, searching for any remaining Taliban fighters. Amir Shah, The Seattle Times, "Taliban overrun Afghan army base, kill 17 troops," 14 Aug. 2018 That’s how quarterback Will Grier, linebacker David Long and seven of their teammates wound up in Atlanta five days before this year’s draft learning how NFL teams will comb through their lives prior to next year’s draft. Andy Staples,, "How West Virginia Is Preparing Its Stars for the Biggest Year of Their Lives," 3 May 2018 The company says artificial intelligence and actual humans will comb through advertisers to identify those that need to be labeled and verified. Ashley Carman, The Verge, "Facebook says it’ll now require political-leaning advertisers to verify their identity," 6 Apr. 2018 Investigators combed through the SUV looking for evidence that could link the duo to the shootout, dispatch records say. Adam Ferrise,, "Off-duty Cleveland police officer forced to ground during armed robbery, engaged in shootout while chasing robbers, union says," 28 Mar. 2018 Getty Images had created a popular search engine to help users comb through the firm’s 170 million photographs and other visual art. Charles Duhigg, New York Times, "The Case Against Google," 20 Feb. 2018 Corrections & Amplifications Leibovitz combed through thousands of images to select the more than 4,000 pictures for the show. Lane Florsheim, WSJ, "Annie Leibovitz on Being Envious of Herself," 13 Feb. 2019 Next, comb through brows with Urban Decay Brow Endowed in Dark Drapes followed by the Urban Decay Brow Tamer in Dark. Jenna Rosenstein, Harper's BAZAAR, "Nathalie Emmanuel and Maisie Williams Both Wore the Urban Decay Game of Thrones Collab," 4 Apr. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'comb.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of comb


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for comb


Middle English, from Old English camb; akin to Old High German kamb comb, Greek gomphos tooth

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Dictionary Entries near comb



coma vigil





Statistics for comb

Last Updated

12 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for comb

The first known use of comb was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for comb



English Language Learners Definition of comb

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a flat piece of plastic or metal with a row of thin teeth that is used for making hair neat
: a device that is used for separating or straightening fibers (such as wool fibers)
: a soft part on top of the head of some birds (such as chickens)



English Language Learners Definition of comb (Entry 2 of 2)

: to smooth, arrange, or separate (hair or fibers) with a comb
: to search (something) very thoroughly in order to find something


\ ˈkōm How to pronounce comb (audio) \

Kids Definition of comb

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a toothed implement used to smooth and arrange the hair or worn in the hair to hold it in place
2 : a soft fleshy part on top of the head of a chicken or some related birds
3 : honeycomb


combed; combing

Kids Definition of comb (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to smooth, arrange, or untangle with a comb
2 : to search over or through carefully Police combed the building in search of evidence.

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More from Merriam-Webster on comb

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with comb

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for comb

Spanish Central: Translation of comb

Nglish: Translation of comb for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of comb for Arabic Speakers

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