vibrissa

noun vi·bris·sa \ vī-ˈbri-sə , və- \

Definition of vibrissa

plural vibrissae play \vī-ˈbri-(ˌ)sē; və-ˈbri-(ˌ)sē, -ˌsī\
1 a : any of the stiff hairs that are located on the face and especially about the snout of many mammals and typically serve as tactile organs; also : a similar stiff tactile hair growing elsewhere on some mammals (as in a small tuft at the wrist)
b : any of the coarse hairs growing within the nostrils of humans that serve to impede the inhalation of particulate matter
2 : one of the bristly feathers near the mouth of many and especially insectivorous birds that may help to prevent the escape of insects

vibrissa was our Word of the Day on 05/27/2010. Hear the podcast!

Did You Know?

The whiskers of a cat qualify as vibrissae (that’s the plural of vibrissa), as do the hairlike feathers around the bill of some birds - especially the insect-feeding kind. And when scientists first used vibrissa in the late 17th century, they used the word to refer specifically to the hairs inside the human nostril. Science got this word, as it has many others, from Latin. Vibrissa comes from vibrare, which means all of the following: "to brandish," "to wave," "to rock," and "to propel suddenly." Other vibrare descendents in English include vibrate, vibrato, and veer.

Origin and Etymology of vibrissa

Medieval Latin, from Latin vibrare


Medical Dictionary

vibrissa

noun vi·bris·sa \ vī-ˈbris-ə, və- \

medical Definition of vibrissa

plural vibrissae play \vī-ˈbris-(ˌ)ē; və-ˈbris-(ˌ)ē, \
1 : any of the stiff hairs that are located on the face and especially about the snout of many mammals and typically serve as tactile organs
2 : any of the coarse hairs growing within the nostrils of humans that serve to impede the inhalation of particulate matter

vibrissal

play \-əl\ adjective

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