tricho·​til·​lo·​ma·​nia ˌtri-kə-ˌti-lə-ˈmā-nē-ə How to pronounce trichotillomania (audio)
: an abnormal desire to pull out one's hair

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The word trichotillomania derives from the Greek trich- ("hair") and tillein ("to pull or pluck"), along with the suffix -mania (from mainesthai, meaning "to be mad"). People suffering from trichotillomania will routinely pluck hair from the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes or other parts of the body, usually impulsively but sometimes with careful deliberation (such as by using tweezers). Some researchers believe that it may be a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder. The word for this condition first appeared in English around the dawn of the 20th century (it's generally thought to have been first coined in French by a French dermatologist).

Examples of trichotillomania in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In order to determine what patterns your trichotillomania follows, Dr. Gill suggests keeping a log. Casey Clark, SELF, 19 Oct. 2020 The study also notes that the severity of trichotillomania can ride in waves throughout a person’s life for days, weeks, even years at a time. Jennifer Hussein, Allure, 13 Mar. 2020 Both adults living with fully realized trichotillomania and practitioners who treat repetitive behavioral disorders agree that the best way to approach a child with budding compulsive anxiety is with acceptance and gentle removal of triggers. Washington Post, 13 Nov. 2019 As with trichotillomania, these behaviors can’t be better explained by some other condition or disorder. Anna Borges, SELF, 13 Aug. 2019 And, in some cases, trichotillomania can have medical—not just aesthetic—side effects. Anna Borges, SELF, 13 Aug. 2019 Victoria's Secret Angel Sara Sampaio is opening up about a mental health issue that affects her everyday life: trichotillomania, a condition that gives her the urge to pluck the hair from her eyebrows. Temi Adebowale, Harper's BAZAAR, 30 July 2018 So much deeper, in fact, that when Sara Sampaio was recently asked a benign question about her eyebrow maintenance, the model gave an honest answer about her trichotillomania. Andrea Park, Allure, 25 July 2018 See More

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

Word History


borrowed from French trichotillomanie, from tricho- tricho- + Greek tíllomai, tíllesthai "to tear one's hair (in mourning)" (middle voice of tíllein "to pluck, tear," of uncertain origin) + French -manie -mania

Note: The term was introduced by the French dermatologist François Henri Hallopeau (1842-1919) in "III. Alopécie par grattage (trichomanie ou trichotillomanie)" (Réunion clinique hebdomadaire des médecins de l'Hopital Saint-Louis …Séance - Le jeudi 7 mars 1889), Annales de dermatologie et de syphiligraphie, deuxième série, tome 10 (1889), pp. 440-41.

First Known Use

circa 1903, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of trichotillomania was circa 1903


Dictionary Entries Near trichotillomania

Cite this Entry

“Trichotillomania.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2024.

Medical Definition


tricho·​til·​lo·​ma·​nia -ˌtil-ə-ˈmā-nē-ə How to pronounce trichotillomania (audio)
: abnormal desire to pull out one's hair

called also hairpulling, trich

trichotillomanic adjective
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