\ˈkōm \

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 \ adjective
comblike \ˈkōm-ˌlīk \ 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

Then break up curls with a wide tooth comb, and avoid the urge to grab your favorite shine-enhancing spray or dry shampoo for a little extra oomph. Chloe Metzger, Marie Claire, "Finally: How to Make Your Aggressively Straight Hair Hold a Curl," 29 May 2018 For example, the high court has yet to rule on whether police need a warrant to access location data from cell towers over short periods of time or comb through records generated by Internet of things devices such as smartwatches. Derek Hawkins,, "How Trump's Supreme Court pick could influence digital privacy," 5 July 2018 For example, the high court has yet to rule on whether police need a warrant to access location data from cell towers over short periods of time or comb through records generated by Internet of things devices such as smartwatches. Derek Hawkins, Washington Post, "The Cybersecurity 202: How Trump's Supreme Court pick could influence digital privacy," 5 July 2018 Coins are plentiful throughout the latter centuries, as are miscellaneous trinkets such as keys, utensils and combs. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "New Website Unearths Amsterdam’s History Via 700,000 Artifacts Spanning 5,000 Years," 2 July 2018 Healthy-seeming bees would simply fly away and never come back, leaving behind combs full of honey and a dying, untended queen. Thor Hanson, WSJ, "The Plight of the Humble Bee," 29 June 2018 Vigilant for lice, Bethany dispenses shampoo and combs. Author: Maria Sacchetti, Kevin Sieff, Marc Fisher, Anchorage Daily News, "Separated migrant children are all over the country," 25 June 2018 Ultimately, successfully treating head lice without a comb is next to impossible. Mariko Zapf, Good Housekeeping, "This 3-Step Natural Head Lice Remedy Works For My Family Every Time," 15 Aug. 2017 Handcrafted and presented in individual leather cases, the combs are an Instagram-worthy addition to any vanity. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "Byredo’s New Keepsake Combs Pay Tribute to Africa’s Beloved Queens," 13 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Federal agents combed over a FedEx Office location in the small town of Sunset Valley, surrounded by southwest Austin, after determining the exploding package originated there. Mark Collette, Houston Chronicle, "Police: Austin bombing suspect dead after blowing himself up," 21 Mar. 2018 The diligent, computer-savvy-in-a-more-practical-way-than-us folks at Fusion combed over the data to create a ranking, which New Jersey tops at 0.82 percent. Chelsea Peng, Marie Claire, "A Master Post Documenting the Ashley Madison Aftershock," 15 Sep. 2015 The home’ exterior is made with cedar siding and black steel trim articulating the corner and combing windows. Nancy Keates, WSJ, "A Shoe Executive’s Long-Distance Run to His Oregon Abode," 11 July 2018 The Montgomery County District Attorney's Office, the Texas Rangers, and the Precinct 4 Constable's Office all showed up to help with the search, combing the woods and nearby sand pits for hours. Keri Blakinger, Houston Chronicle, "Montgomery County man accused of dragging game warden from ATV identified," 9 July 2018 Authorities shut down the eastbound elevated expressway for several hours as investigators combed the scene. Michelle Hunter,, "Driver wounded in shooting on West Bank Expressway Wednesday night," 10 May 2018 Detectives are looking for witnesses and combing through any available video camera surveillance footage. Caroline Blackmon, Detroit Free Press, "Vandals spray painted swastikas, racial slurs in Independence Township," 12 July 2018 With the help of Google's AI division, the team were able to train a neural network to learn what a signal from a distant planet looked like and comb through the telescopes observations of 670 stars for planets that had slipped through the net. Alvaro Montano, Houston Chronicle, "Planet Hockey offers young players chance to improve skill set at Willowbrook camp," 11 July 2018 Authorities have narrowed their search for the body of a Florida hairdresser missing since May, zeroing in on a Georgia landfill where local police and FBI agents are combing through truckloads of trash. Chris Harris,, "Police Search Landfill for Missing Florida Hairdresser — and Coworker Seen Discarding Trash Bag Is Suspect," 10 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

1 Sep 2018

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 \

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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