ton·​so·​ri·​al tän-ˈsȯr-ē-əl How to pronounce tonsorial (audio)
: of or relating to a barber or the work of a barber

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Tonsorial is a fancy word that describes the work of those who give shaves and haircuts. (It can apply more broadly to hairdressers as well.) It derives from the Latin verb tondēre, meaning "to shear, clip, or crop." (Another descendant, tonsor, is an archaic word for a barber.) You might be more familiar with the related noun tonsure, which refers to the shaven crown or patch worn by monks and other clerics, or the religious rite of clipping the hair of one being admitted as a cleric. The verb tonsure means "to shave the head of" or "to confer the tonsure upon."

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web No tonsorial slouch himself is their overlord, Count Pierre d’Alençon, a saucy libertine (hilariously played by a peroxide-blond Affleck) who makes no secret of his preference for Le Gris over Carrouges. Los Angeles Times, 13 Oct. 2021 Meanwhile, Thomas comically goes from honey to vinegar on a dime — while providing a tonsorial fashion parade, thanks to Justin Lore’s towering wigs. Matthew J. Palm,, 12 June 2021 Pelosi is not the first politician to have a sacrosanct tonsorial engagement. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, 3 Sep. 2020 The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Vengeful, bloodletting rage churns magnificently through Stephen Sondheim’s score for this story of murder by tonsorial means in Victorian England. Ben Brantley, New York Times, 15 Apr. 2020 Yet a stroll down its high street reveals a tonsorial revolution deep in the heart of Britain. The Economist, 18 Jan. 2020 In a school full of mean kids, her tonsorial nightmare makes her an easy target. Sheri Linden,, 15 Dec. 2017 See More

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

Word History


Latin tonsorius, from tondēre

First Known Use

1813, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of tonsorial was in 1813


Dictionary Entries Near tonsorial

Cite this Entry

“Tonsorial.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2023.

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