\ 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)

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from comb


combed \ ˈkōmd How to pronounce comb (audio) \ adjective
comblike \ ˈkōm-​ˌlīk How to pronounce comb (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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The spacing between each tooth will tell you what kind of hair the comb is best for. Tatjana Freund, Marie Claire, "Find the Best Hair Brush For Your Hair, Once and For All," 29 Dec. 2020 Up to that point, the Pelicans had gone 2-5 against a favorable schedule during the restart, the equivalent of stepping on the comb of a rake and getting whacked in the face. Christian Clark | Staff Writer,, "Pelicans' Brandon Ingram bet on himself and was rewarded. Now comes the hard part.," 23 Dec. 2020 However, no physical samples of the comb jellyfish have been taken. James Rogers, Fox News, "New gelatinous 'blob' species discovered in the depths of the ocean," 3 Dec. 2020 If your hair is prone to tangles and a comb won't cut it, bring a detangling brush into the shower with you to eliminate any knots and work product through your hair evenly. Tatjana Freund, Marie Claire, "Find the Best Hair Brush For Your Hair, Once and For All," 29 Dec. 2020 Thick stands of roseau comb out silt and sand from passing river water, dropping it on top of its dense tangles of boudin-thick roots. Tristan Baurick,, "Louisiana scientists say a reviled plant could save the coast's insect-ravaged wetlands," 11 Dec. 2020 Both comb jellies and jellyfish are 95 percent water, according to the Smithsonian. James Rogers, Fox News, "New gelatinous 'blob' species discovered in the depths of the ocean," 3 Dec. 2020 Instructions on how to perform a proper comb-through are all over YouTube. Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, "'Cobble Hill' Is Marie Claire's December Book Club Pick," 30 Nov. 2020 The trademark Monte Carlo stock, with its reverse-slope comb, is comfortable and mitigates the amount of cheek slap the shooter experiences under recoil, and is part of the reason the rifle handles so well. John B. Snow, Outdoor Life, "We Tested the Best-Selling Affordable Deer Rifles, Scopes, and Ammo. Here Are Our Top Picks," 6 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Hundreds more charges are expected as federal investigators comb tips, video and social media to identify and arrest suspects across the country. Erin Donaghue, CBS News, "Retired firefighter charged with throwing fire extinguisher at officers during Capitol riots," 14 Jan. 2021 After setting their parameters, Highfill and her colleagues then had to comb the BEA’s detailed measures of goods and services produced in the US to isolate space production. Tim Fernholz, Quartz, "Inside the US government’s effort to start measuring the space economy," 14 Jan. 2021 Now’s the time to comb through your child’s hair with thick white conditioner such as Pantene. Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, "'Cobble Hill' Is Marie Claire's December Book Club Pick," 30 Nov. 2020 Every night, Prakash Parameswran goes online to comb through COVID-19 data on the Texas Department of State Health Services dashboard and update his Collin County neighbors about the state of the pandemic. Jared Weber, Dallas News, "Collin County’s data woes concern residents amid coronavirus spike," 20 Dec. 2020 Despite the swift pace, experts stress the process has been painstaking and methodical, and FDA's scientific experts will comb the data submitted by the companies. Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY, "Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine finally reaches its last step: FDA committee vote. Most vaccines never get that far.," 9 Dec. 2020 Detailed breakdowns of data from the election — turnout by age, ethnicity, political party and so on — aren’t yet available but will be in coming months as officials comb through the final numbers. John Wilkens, San Diego Union-Tribune, "November election’s high turnout with few problems points toward an all-mail future," 5 Dec. 2020 Just as Open Questions will comb through fan responses to summarize arguments on key tennis questions, IBM says its technology could analyze a company's documents and data to conduct research or improve customer service. Clare Duffy, CNN, "IBM's Watson is helping tennis fans argue with each other," 1 Sep. 2020 In these cases, researchers also comb through data to analyze how vaccines may have interacted with women in the studies who did not know or intend to be pregnant. Miriam Berger, Washington Post, "Pregnant women are excluded from initial covid-19 vaccinations, highlighting a worldwide research gap," 10 Dec. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about comb

Time Traveler for comb

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for comb

Last Updated

24 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Comb.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!