plural noun

side·​burns ˈsīd-ˌbərnz How to pronounce sideburns (audio)
: continuations of the hairline in front of the ears
sideburned adjective

Examples of sideburns in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web And at her sideburns was another, smaller spit curl. Gabi Thorne, Allure, 1 Sep. 2023 Diana’s father managed to save seven hairs from Elvis’s sideburns — putting them in the cellophane wrapping from a cigarette packet — and get the star’s autograph for his daughters back home in Little Rock. John Kelly, Washington Post, 17 July 2023 Kerwin worked on his sideburns, while McIntosh tamed the mane. Carita Rizzo, The Hollywood Reporter, 3 Dec. 2022 Zenker, who sports long, pointed sideburns and jet-black hair, could pass as a rock musician. Time, 9 Dec. 2022 Every necessary detail of the A-Team character is here, including his distinctive mohawk and sideburns. Gabi Thorne, Allure, 17 Oct. 2022 One man financed 13 surgeries, while the other draws on his sideburns. Jack Nicas Anita Pouchard Serra, New York Times, 22 Sep. 2022 Lanc, in his late forties, favors a black baseball cap, its bill just barely curved, and sports slightly bushy sideburns. Boyce Upholt, The New Republic, 19 Sep. 2022 Just look at those sideburns -- and all that leather... Andrew Torgan, CNN, 19 June 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'sideburns.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


anagram of burnsides

First Known Use

1876, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of sideburns was in 1876

Dictionary Entries Near sideburns

Cite this Entry

“Sideburns.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


plural noun
side·​burns ˈsīd-ˌbərnz How to pronounce sideburns (audio)
: hair growing on the side of the face in front of the ears

an altered form of burnsides "long whiskers at the side of the face," named for Ambrose Everett Burnside 1824–1881 American general

Word Origin
During the American Civil War, the Union general Ambrose Everett Burnside became known for the long bushy whiskers he wore on the sides of his face. Burnside was a popular figure in the city of Washington during the early days of the war. His unusual appearance caught the public eye, and other men soon began growing long whiskers like his. Such whiskers, which became the fashion throughout America, were originally called burnsides after the general. By the 1880s the order of the two words comprising burnsides was reversed to give sideburns, probably by analogy with "side-whiskers."

More from Merriam-Webster on sideburns

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