\ 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

Honey can be consumed still in the comb, but many beekeepers extract and bottle the golden goodness. Gemma Tarlach, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Bounty of the bees extends far beyond honey for your tea - to lotions, balms and even drinks," 16 July 2019 The child sits on Cobain’s lap while Love searches for a comb and scissors. Lisawhill, Longreads, "Live Through This: Courtney Love at 55," 9 July 2019 Hard to have a real Bronx Barbie without the baby hair, so Appleton tried his hand at the look with the help of a fine-toothed comb and a whole lot of hair gel. Leah Prinzivalli, Allure, "Jennifer Lopez Shows Off Her "Bronx Barbie" Look and Baby Hair on Instagram," 8 Oct. 2018 So things like the comb and the punishment, that’s a rare story? Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, "Inside a Texas Building Where the Government Is Holding Immigrant Children," 22 June 2019 Then use a wide-tooth comb to make small or large sections, depending on your length, throughout your hair. Glamour, "How to Keep Curls Overnight Without Losing Their Shape," 14 May 2019 Fifty women shuffle in their seats, digging into their handbags for mascara and lip gloss and combs. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column One: For lonely men in Spanish towns, the ‘caravan of women’ brings hope of love," 14 May 2019 Hawksbills have long been hunted for their shells—the ancient Romans, for example, fashioned the scales into combs and rings. Tina Deines, National Geographic, "Endangered hawksbill turtle shell trade is much bigger than scientists ever suspected," 27 Mar. 2019 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

With police and an animal trapper named Alligator Bob combing the murky waters of the Humboldt Park Lagoon, the rogue reptile kept his distance and his freedom. Cindy Dampier,, "Looking for the Humboldt Gator? You can hit him up on Twitter," 11 July 2019 Nearby bodies of water were combed and K-9s searched open fields. Billy Kobin, The Courier-Journal, "Six months after Savannah Spurlock disappeared, her body is found. Here's what to know," 11 July 2019 During her sophomore year of high school, a few of Chamberlain’s friends began combing SoundCloud for trap rap remixes of Christmas music. Jonah Engel Bromwich, New York Times, "What if Being a YouTube Celebrity Is Actually Backbreaking Work?," 9 July 2019 More than a decade ago, researchers began combing through another significant shipwreck found near Cyprus, this one dating to the late Classical Period, before the Romans came to the island. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Found: An ‘Undisturbed’ Roman Ship Near Cyprus," 1 July 2019 Eugene Jo became separated from a group hike in the mountains above La Cañada Flintridge and June 22 and authorities had combed the area near the Angeles National Forest's Mount Waterman Trail for days to no avail. Dennis Romero, NBC News, "73-year-old hiker missing for a week in California forest is rescued," 29 June 2019 Our kitchen would transform into an at-home beauty salon, so my mom could comb, detangle, twist, trim, braid, or press my hair. Maya Allen, Marie Claire, "This Video of Beyoncé's Hair Getting Trimmed by Tina Knowles WIll Make Your Day," 28 June 2019 To set them into place, spray a clean mascara wand or toothbrush with alcohol-free hairspray before combing them through your hair. Abigail Whittington, Good Housekeeping, "10 Ways to Tame and Get Rid of Frizzy Hair for Good," 27 June 2019 Consumers don’t have to pay a dime to chat with friends on Facebook, search for the best route using Google Maps, exchange emails, comb the internet for facts and figures or engage in countless other activities. Amanda Lotz, The Conversation, "Amazon, Google and Facebook warrant antitrust scrutiny for many reasons – not just because they’re large," 24 June 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

21 Jul 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

Comments on comb

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to complain fretfully

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