\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

But many comb through Mr. Fowler’s passion, and the store’s specialty: zines and small-press booklets or books championing illustrations. Matthew Sedacca, New York Times, "The ‘Punk Rock’ Comic Book Shop," 7 June 2018 The Victorian Lady, dressed in period costume and showcasing items such as hair combs and clothing of that era, discussed the Gilded Age with humorous and little-known anecdotes about fashion, home life, and etiquette during the 1890s. Manon L. Mirabelli, Courant Community, "The Victorian Lady Visits Senior Center," 3 Apr. 2018 The 1961 work The Light That Won’t Fail I, for instance, points to the repetitiveness of the daily routine by featuring three quotidian images, including a comb that evokes the bars of a prison. Tobias Grey, WSJ, "A New James Rosenquist Exhibition Is as Enigmatic and Bold as the Artist," 25 Oct. 2018 Check out the 9-inch-wide by 6-inch-high bright yellow Chicken 3-Ring Binder Pouch, which has startled white and blue button eyes and loops of red zipper fabric added on for a comb and wattle. Judi Dash,, "Gadget Guru: Zipit Wacky Creatures Bags and Pouches," 3 Apr. 2018 Pro Tip: When using embellishments on wires, wrap them around the hair comb before securing with glue. 3. Sarah Newell, Seventeen, "15 Amazing Prom Hacks To Make It Your Most Stylish Night Ever," 6 Jan. 2017 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The third floor, where most of the anthropological collection resided, collapsed completely in the fire, and museum staff won’t get to comb through the debris until sometime next year. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Ancient skull found among debris in burned Brazilian museum," 25 Oct. 2018 So if one of your third cousins is revealed while searching your DNA, investigators still have a lot more work to do: That’s around 850 people to comb through before finding you. Brian Resnick, Vox, "Ancestry DNA databases can be used to find you — even if you don’t sign up," 12 Oct. 2018 Cat lovers who like the Persian personality but not the time required to comb them may choose an exotic, a shorthaired variety. Kim Campbell Thornton, sacbee, "Cats’ quirks? Read about breeds," 27 June 2018 Tiered, thin, and hard, this wand is stiff enough to comb through every lash without leaving behind accidental smudging on your lid. Samantha Sasso,, "We Tried Glossier's New Mascara — & Here's Our Unfiltered Review," 9 May 2018 Every spring, at the start of planting season, Peavey and his brothers would comb the fields picking up rocks that might damage the machines. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Lions coach: A Matt Patricia story you haven't heard – rock on," 4 Feb. 2018 Starting on the final day of the festival, this dedicated group of volunteers spends weeks combing the playa for damage and debris, helping complete the yearly transformation from bustling city to pristine desert. Jonathon Keats, Discover Magazine, "The Vanishing City," 13 Aug. 2018 During discovery, a pre-trial procedure in America, for example, both sides exchange heaps of documents that must be combed through for evidence. The Economist, "Law firms climb aboard the AI wagon," 12 July 2018 The album, which appeared on TIDAL Saturday afternoon before expanding to other streaming platforms on Monday, is accompanied by a bold album cover depicting a black woman combing a black man's hair with the Mona Lisa looming in the background. Ira Madison Iii, GQ, "Everything Is Love Review: The Cost of a Monarchy," 19 June 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

8 Dec 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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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

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


to enclose within walls

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