\ 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
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


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

Verb 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 The gun comes with three different recoil pads for length of pull adjustment, and three different cheek pads for comb adjustment. Alex Robinson, Outdoor Life, "Savage’s New Renegauge is a Light-Recoiling Semi-Auto Shotgun That’s Made in America," 3 Jan. 2020 Her white hair is pulled straight back into combs on either side of her head. Michelle Matthews |, al, "At 100, this amazing woman still works five days a week," 12 Nov. 2019 After noticing that women were spending uncomfortable hours in beauty salons undergoing a hot-comb process for hair straightening, George Johnson modified it into Ultra Sheen, aimed at women., "The publicist Dori Wilson, who had known Mrs. Johnson for decades, announced her death.," 12 Sep. 2019 Blot the hair with a towel, then use a wide-toothed comb or a detangling brush to gently brush through it. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "How to Get Your Best Summer Curls, According to Top Industry Pros," 28 June 2019 The New York Times wrote that Klobuchar once used a comb to eat a salad mid-flight after berating her staff for dropping the fork, then ordered the staff member to clean it. Renae Reints, Fortune, "Meet the 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of," 8 Apr. 2019 Long sleeves and pants help prevent contact with pointy pests, but the importance of a kit featuring a beefy set of tweezers and a comb to pry off stems from shoes can’t be underestimated. Shawnté Salabert, Outside Online, "The Ultimate Joshua Tree National Park Travel Guide," 28 Oct. 2019 Steven, 48, sits me down in a chair and catches me up on the latest hairstyles for Asian men — pompadours and comb-overs with fades. Los Angeles Times, "Asian hair, and what we talk about in L.A. barbershops," 21 Oct. 2019 The comb leaves my hair less frizzy and the results last for days longer than the sponge. Shalwah Evans, Essence, "What I Double-Tapped This Weekend: The Hair Tool I Need Right Now," 30 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Federal investigators have been combing through videos submitted by people who saw the crash and the aftermath. Washington Post, "NTSB: Witness saw Louisiana plane level out before crash," 8 Jan. 2020 The loggers split up and began combing the area, Jay said. oregonlive, "Search for girl, 2, lost in woods ends in success — with help from loggers and woman on horseback," 8 Nov. 2019 Missouri authorities have been combing through a 74-acre farm in hopes of finding out what happened to two Wisconsin brothers who have been missing since last week. Wire Service, The Mercury News, "Two brothers drove to a man’s farm for a business deal. No one’s heard from them since," 30 July 2019 The Dawn of Spotify's Podcast Era The platform’s chief content officer has been combing Hollywood for inspiration. Claudia Rosenbaum, Billboard, "Jobs of Tomorrow: Spotify's Nick Holmstén on Why the Streaming Giant and Its Algorithm Are Good for Business," 27 June 2019 The National Transportation Safety Board is on scene in Oahu combing through the wreckage of what's left of the Beechcraft skydiving plane, reports CBS News' Jonathan Vigliotti. CBS News, "Skydiving plane in Hawaii crash that killed 11 was involved in prior incident," 24 June 2019 Rollins said her office would comb through any available video, as well as cell phone data, to piece together what happened. Erin Donaghue, CBS News, ""Double murder-suicide" likely in parking garage deaths of mom and kids, DA says," 26 Dec. 2019 Peters said investigators are combing through surveillance video of the building and looking to see if anyone accessed an employee-only elevator near the cafeteria. Adam Ferrise, cleveland, "Sheriff investigating break-in at Cuyahoga County Justice Center office," 16 Dec. 2019 Brian Edwards, commander of the special victims unit, said police are combing through microfiche police reports and old log books to try to link unsolved cases to GBMC slides. Alison Knezevich,, "Millions in state, federal money ready to help Maryland police departments test rape kits, some years old," 27 Nov. 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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Time Traveler for comb

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for comb

Last Updated

20 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Comb.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 23 January 2020.

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More Definitions for comb


How to pronounce comb (audio)

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


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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for comb

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with comb

Spanish Central: Translation of comb

Nglish: Translation of comb for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of comb for Arabic Speakers

Comments on comb

What made you want to look up comb? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

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