\ 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)

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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

Verb 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 Beekeepers harvest the surplus, and with it, a portion of the wax comb. 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 These are: kes (long, uncut hair), kara (steel bracelet), kanga (wooden comb), kirpan (small sword) and kachera (soldier-shorts). Simran Jeet Singh, The Conversation, "Why Sikhs wear a turban and what it means to practice the faith in the United States," 13 Sep. 2019 By rubbing the teeth of the comb across another structure called the medial tooth, the animals are able to create a sound similar to claw stridulation (listen below). David Shultz, Science | AAAS, "Listen to a ghost crab frighten away enemies—with its stomach rumbles," 10 Sep. 2019 Jenkins said recently, using his left hand to hold clippers and a comb because his right remains swollen and partially immobile. Akilah Johnson, ProPublica, "Medicare-for-All Is Not Medicare, and Not Really for All. So What Does It Actually Mean?," 6 Sep. 2019 Along Delaware’s coast, Thurman also noted a dead loggerhead sea turtle that washed ashore in Slaughter Beach with a stomach full of 65 different types of plastics — including an entire comb. Maddy Lauria, Washington Post, "Plastic is ending up in Delaware’s waters, where it can kill," 30 Aug. 2019 The Sussex researchers have developed a way to dramatically reduce the size of the comb by integrating it with a tiny chip. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "A New Way To Build Atomic Clocks Could Make GPS Even Better," 12 Mar. 2019 Use the comb side of the Baby Tress brush to select a few baby hairs, and comb them out to remove any tangles. Jennifer Ford, Essence, "3 Top Tips For Laying Your Edges," 28 Aug. 2019 The rush of color found at Bishop Hill Farm Flowers will continue till the first frost, including the celosia, which look like fuzzy brains or cock's combs. Kim Pierce, Dallas News, "Find spicy Hatch chile snacks, peak okra and other summer farm goods in Coppell," 27 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb No amount of combing could tame the stubborn cowlick in his short hair. oregonlive, "Epley maneuver for vertigo was invented by Oregon doctor," 15 Oct. 2019 Despite a growing list of these genetic markers, identified by combing the DNA of large groups of people with and without a disease, researchers have only figured out what a specific marker means for a person’s health in a few cases. Jocelyn Kaiser, Science | AAAS, "A global push to get from disease genes to medicines," 4 Oct. 2019 After combing through all the offers, Hoagland ultimately decided on Flatline Concrete Grinding in Phoenix. Allen Kim, CNN, "A man who got laid off gets hundreds of job offers after handing out his résumé on the side of the road," 31 July 2019 The researchers started their search by combing through the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, which is essentially a huge map of the northern night sky collected over many years of observation. Quanta Magazine, "Big Black Holes Found in the Smallest Galaxies," 23 July 2019 Rather than readying for an evening out by combing lengths into one of her signature slicked midi-knots, Hadid opted for something slightly less done, her hair scraped back with fingers, leaving ample texture in their wake. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, "Bella Hadid Pairs the Perfect Windswept Updo With an All-White Puffer," 23 Oct. 2018 So, Billboard decided to throw a BTS Festa of our own by combing through every single one of BTS’ songs, to map out their top 50 tracks in the past half-decade. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "BTS' 50 Best Songs: Critics' Picks," 12 June 2018 Linda created the name Mojalet by combing letters from dance genres: m-o from modern, j-a from jazz, and l-e-t from ballet. Lisa Deaderick,, "Taking a chance on dance led to a new career," 5 Apr. 2018 Trained as a cultural historian, Doerksen was highly skilled in combing through archives in search of really good stuff. Aimee Levitt, Chicago Reader, "Archive Dive / History / Media / News Bad News From the Past never gets stale," 20 Feb. 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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Time Traveler for comb

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for comb

Last Updated

27 Oct 2019

Cite this Entry

“Comb.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 21 November 2019.

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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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on comb

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for comb

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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