\ 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

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 Scientist comb through the reams of data looking for previously unknown physics signatures that hopefully increase our understanding of the world and beyond. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "The Large Hadron Collider Is Going Offline So It Can Become More Powerful," 6 Dec. 2018 Each one relates to its neighbors and contributes to the unsettling effect of the whole word, which is framed by two bars and a long, rather menacing comb-like shape. Eliza Brooke, Vox, "Sorry to Bother You," 12 Nov. 2018 The only solution is to burn the comb and equipment, and that’s harsh. New York Times, "With a Sniff and a Signal, These Dogs Hunt Down Threats to Bees," 3 July 2018 There are two types of people in the world: those who love clumpy, thick, and chunky mascara—and those who want to chase said people with a lash comb and makeup remover. Jenna Rosenstein, Harper's BAZAAR, "You Can Shop The Mascara Used To Create The Major Lashes Backstage At Dior," 28 Sep. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

New York is the first state to set specific guidance governing how life insurers use algorithms to comb through everything from homeownership records to credit scores and internet use in an effort to size up an applicant’s risk. Leslie Scism, WSJ, "New York Insurers Can Evaluate Your Social Media Use—if They Can Prove Why It’s Needed," 30 Jan. 2019 The search for missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts was closing in on its fifth week — with investigators actively continuing to comb through evidence — when the 20-year-old Iowa resident's dad gave a devastating update. Jennifer Earl, Fox News, "Mollie Tibbetts, University of Iowa student, found dead: A timeline of events," 19 Sep. 2018 Fox said investigators will need to comb through the crash site and various pieces of data before being able to conclude what happened. Ann Zaniewski, Detroit Free Press, "Pilot in fatal crash reported landing gear, fuel problems," 25 June 2018 It’s easier to analyze a large data set of specific hashtags than to manually comb through untagged content. Louise Matsakis, WIRED, "How Pro-Eating Disorder Posts Evade Filters on Social Media," 13 June 2018 That forced researchers to comb through social media and make telephone cold calls to search for potential participants. Anchorage Daily News, "Should veterans be allowed to use medical marijuana for PTSD? Trump administration says no.," 17 Feb. 2018 General manager Jaime Cohenca led the search, combing through applications and Twitch streams. Jake Seiner, The Seattle Times, "Royale rumble: ‘Apex Legends’ smashing ‘Fortnite’ records," 20 Feb. 2019 Greendale even combs state immunization records to find families with babies and sends first birthday reminders about lead testing and immunizations, Shepeard said. Jane Ford-stewart, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Children found with high levels of lead in Milwaukee County suburbs. What can you do to change this?," 7 Feb. 2018 Christy combed through the observatory's image archives to measure the angle where the elongation appeared. Nola Taylor Redd,, "Celebrating 40 Years of Pluto's Largest Moon, Charon," 14 July 2018

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

17 Mar 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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