From the second edition (1989):
beard, n.
(bɪəd) Forms: 1–3 beard, (3 bærd, beord, burde), 3–6 berd, (4–6 berde), 5–6 beerd(e, 6 (Sc. baird, beird), bearde, 6– beard. [Common Teut.: OE. beard (:—earlier *bard, *bærd) = MDu. baert, Du. baard, OHG., mod.G. bart, ON. *barðr retained only in comp. as Langbarðr (but cogn. with barð neuter, ‘brim, edge, beak, prow,’ whence sense 11 below):—OTeut. *bardo-z (not known in Gothic); cogn. w. OSlav. barda beard. Kinship to L. barba is, on phonetic grounds, doubtful. As to identity of OE. and mod. spelling see beacon.]


1. The hair that grows upon the chin, lips, and adjacent parts of an adult man's face; now usually excluding the moustache, or hair of the upper lip.

c825 Vesp. Ps. cxxxiii. 2 Swe swe smiring in heafde ðæt asta in beard Aarones. 1205 Lay. 10753 Ælcne mon‥þe hæfde on his chinne bærd [1250 beord]. c1230 Wohunge in Cott. Hom. 279 Þen mon him for schendlac i þe beard spitted. c1250 Gen. & Ex. 3584 Ðo wiste he wel quilc hauen it don, Sene it was here berdes on. a1300 K. Alis. 1164 Swithe mury hit is in halle, When the burdes wawen alle! 1382 Wyclif Isa. xiv. 2 Eche berd [1388 beerd] shal be shaue. 1387 Trevisa Higden Rolls Ser. I. 205 Longobardi‥haueþ þe name of her longe berdes. c1449 Pecock Repr. 120 Men leten her berdis growe withoute schering. a1550 Christis Kirk Gr. xix, Bludy berkit wes thair beird. 1589 Pappe w. Hatchet D, Let me stroake my beard thrice like a Germin, before I speak a wise word. 1716 Lady M. W. Montagu Lett. vi. I. 20 A decrepit old man, with a beard down to his knees. 1757 Burke Abridgm. Eng. Hist. Wks. X. 184 The Britons‥shaved the beard on the chin, that on the upper lip was suffered to remain. 1834 Byron Def. Transf. i. i Broad brow, and‥curly beard.


b. with qualifying epithet, e.g. Cads-beard, ? Cadiz-beard; tile-beard or cathedral-beard, one cut square in the shape of a tile.

1590 Shakes. Mids. N. i. ii. 97 Your purple in graine beard, or your French-crowne colour'd beard. 1598 E. Guilpin Skial. (1878) 22 His face, Furr'd with Cads-beard. 1837 Carlyle Fr. Rev. vii. vii. I. 325 Who is this‥in red-grizzled locks; nay with long tile-beard? 1860 Fairholt Costume 229 The soldier wore the spade beard and the stiletto beard.


c. transf. or fig.

a1856 Longfellow Build. Ship 274 His [the ocean's] beard of snow Heaves with the heaving of his breast.


d. allusively, of age, experience, virility; cf. greybeard.

1591 Florio 2nd Fruites 41 A greater beard than mine might be deceaued. a1700 Dryden (J.) Some thin remains of chastity appeared Ev'n under Jove, but Jove without a beard. a1704 Locke (J.) Would it not be insufferable for a professor to have‥a reverend beard overturned by an upstart novelist?


e. Phrases. †in spite of or maugre any one's beard: in defiance of or direct opposition to his purpose. to one's beard: to one's face, openly. †to be, meet, or run in any one's beard: to oppose him openly and resolutely, to beard. to take by the beard: to attack resolutely (cf. 1 Sam. xvii. 35). †to make a man's beard: (lit.) to dress his beard, (fig.) to outwit or delude him. So †to make a man's beard without a razor: (in later sense) to behead him. †to put something against a man's beard: to taunt him with it.

1330 R. Brunne Chron. 207 Þe cuntre sone he fond in his berd redy ran. c1384 Chaucer H. Fame 689 Moo berdys in two oures Withoute Rasour or Sisoures Y-made, then greyndes be of sondes. c1386 —— Wife's Prol. 361 Yit couthe I make his berd, though queynte he be. 1387 Trevisa Higden Rolls Ser. II. 325 A morwe a man of Hebrewe putte þat aȝen Moyses berd. c1450 Rob. Hood (Ritson) i. i. 361 Thou art euer in my berde, sayd the abbot. c1500 Lancelot 3471 If that we met them scharply in the berd. 1525 Ld. Berners Froiss. I. xxiii. 59 If I get you‥I shall delyuer you to Joselyn, that shall make your beerdes without any rasoure. 1555 Traves Let. in Strype Eccl. Mem. III. ii. App. xxxiii, Yea mawgre the berdis of al hard harts, God wil at length‥delyver thee. 1601 Dent Pathw. Heaven 80 Yet at last they must (spight of their beards) end where they began. 1785 Cowper Task ii. 271 Shamed as we have been, to th' very beard. 1809 W. Irving Knickerb. (1861) 21 A gigantic question‥which I must needs take by the beard and utterly subdue.


2. The similar hairy tuft or growth on the lower jaw or adjacent parts of the face of other animals; e.g. the goat, lion, ibex, seal.

c1300 K. Alis. 6519 A best‥y-cleped Cessus‥Berd hit hadde long y-waxe. a1300 Cursor M. 7509 A bere a lyon baþ I mette‥and shoke ham bi þe berde squa. 1480 Caxton Chron. Eng. ccxi. 194 A gote‥that shuld haue hornes of siluer and a berde as white as snowe. 1595 Shakes. John ii. i. 138 Whose valour plucks dead Lyons by the beard. 1697 Dryden Virg. Georg. iii. 485 The Pastor shears their hoary Beards. c1840 Wood Nat. Hist. I. 670 A Goat‥is easily conquered if his beard can only be grasped.


3. Zool. a. The appendages to the mouth of some fishes. b. The rows of gills in certain bivalves, e.g. the Oyster. c. The byssus or mass of threads by which certain shell-fish (e.g. the Pinna) attach themselves to rocks, etc. d. (See quot. 1802.) e. Two small oblong fleshy bodies situated just above the antlia or spiral sucker of moths and butterflies; the corresponding part in some Diptera, e.g. the Gnat.

1753 Chambers Cycl. Supp., Beard of a muscle‥[also of insects]. 1774 Goldsm. Nat. Hist. (1862) II. iv. vi. 367 These threads which are usually termed the beard of the mussel. 1796 H. Glasse Cookery xi. 175 Wash the oysters very clean‥and take the beards off. 1802 Paley Nat. Theol. xvi. (1817) 140 The play of the rings in an earth~worm‥the beards or prickles, with which the annuli are armed. 1838 Dickens O. Twist (1850) 136/2 ‘A'n't yer fond of oysters?’‥‘Here's one with such a beautiful, delicate beard!’


4. Ornith. a. The cluster of bristles at the base of the beak in some birds, as the Barbet (Bucco). b. The vane or soft lateral filaments of a feather.

1802 Paley Nat. Theol. xii. (1817) 106 The separate pieces, or laminæ, of which the beard [of a feather] is composed. 1835 Penny Cycl. III. 433/2 [In Bucco] Pogonias‥the beard is very strong. 1836 Todd Cycl. Anat. & Phys. I. 350/1 All feathers are composed of‥a vane or beard.


5. Applied as specific name of: The freshwater Shrimp, the Hake, and a kind of pigeon.

1611 Cotgr., Petite crevette de rivière, the Beard, or fresh~water Shrimpe. a1766 Pennant Zool. (1769) III. 158 The lesser hake‥is known on the coast of Cornwall by the name of the greater forked beard. 1867 Tegetmeier Pigeons x. 108 In other parts of Germany they have many clean-footed Tumblers of various colours, as Magpies, Helmets, and Beards; but their Beards have only a white beard and flight-feathers, the rest of the body being dark.


6. Bot. The awn of grasses; prickles, bristles, or hair-like tufts found on various plants; also quasi-fig. in wider application.

1552 Huloet, Beard or eare of corne, arista. 1578 Lyte Dodoens 456 Rough with many sharp pointed eares or beardes like the eares of Barley. c1600 Shakes. Sonn. xii, Summers green all girded up in sheaves, Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard. 1732 Acc. Workhouses 84 Cut off the beards before the wheat is thresh'd. 1813 Sir H. Davy Agric. Chem. (1814) 364 The seeds‥like those of the thistle and dandelion, are furnished with beards or wings. 1839 Bailey Festus vii, Sunshine‥catching By its soft brown beard, the moss. 1865 Burritt Walk Land's End 106 English downs‥yielding a short, crisp beard of herbage.


b. old-man's beard: popular name of the Traveller's Joy (Clematis Vitalba).

1821 Clare Vill. Minstr. I. 84 Dig old man's beard from woodland hedge, To twine a summer shade.


7. Obsolete name for the train or tail of a comet when it appeared to precede the nucleus.

1647 H. More Song Soul ii. App. xciv, But for the newfixt starres there's no pretence, Nor beard nor tail to take occasion by. 1713 Swift Eleg. Partridge Wks. 1755 III. ii. 79 No comet with a flaming beard. 1855 T. Milner Gallery of Nat. 108 When the train preceded the nucleus‥it was called the beard.


8. Farriery. ‘That part of a horse's nether jaw whereon the curbe doth rest.’ (Cotgr. s.v. Barbe.)

1753 Chambers Cycl. Supp., Beard, or under-beard, called also chuck, of a horse, is that part under the lower mandible or the outside, and above the chin, which bears the curb of the bridle. 1792 Osbaldiston Brit. Sportsm. 49 Beard of a horse, should neither be too high raised, nor too flat, so that the curb may rest in its right place. [In mod. dicts.]


9. a. The barb of an arrow, fish-hook, etc. Obs. b. Hence, The hook at the end of a knitting-needle in a knitting-machine, which holds the yarn.

1611 Markham Countr. Content. i. x. 56 Cut out and raise up the beard, which you shall make‥according to the bigness of the hook. 1712 Phil. Trans. XXVII. 444 The Beard or Hooks thereof [of the Harping Iron] did penetrate. 1713 Derham Phys. Theol. iv. xv. 257 The Common Heron hath‥a long sharp Bill to strike their Prey‥with sharp hooked Beards standing backward, to hold their Prey fast when struck. 1753 Hanway Trav. (1762) I. iii. xxxvii. 171 Who wore in their caps the beard of an arrow. 1793 Smeaton Edystone L. §42 note, Jag or bearded bolts‥have a beard raised upon their angles, somewhat like that of a fish-hook.


10. (See quot.)

1871 E. Peacock R. Skirlaugh II. 166 Cattle, which had at these points to be kept out by a stout ‘beard’ of thorns stuck in the ground. 1878 Halliwell, Beard-hedge, the bushes which are stuck into the bank of a new-made hedge, to protect the fresh-planted thorns.


11. In mechanical arts: a. in Ship building, The angular fore-part of the rudder; the corresponding bevel of the stern-post. b. in Carpentry, The sharp edge of a board. c. in Organ-building (see quot.) d. A spring-piece at the back of a lock to prevent the parts from rattling.

1691 T. H[ale] Acc. New Invent. 82 To sheath the‥Beard of the Rudder with Lead. 1852 Seidel Organ 79 Some organ-builders provide the height on both sides with what they call a beard. 1876 J. Hiles Catech. Organ iv. (1878) 27 Flue-pipes have also occasionally a beard, which is a cross piece fastened on just below the under-lip.


e. Printing. (a) That part of the type above and below the face, which allows for ascending and descending letters, and prevents their meeting those in the lines above or below. (b) The horizontal bases and tops added to the letters.

1823 J. Badcock Dom. Amusem. 144 A moveable square of wood, which rises nearly as high as the beard of the letter. 1824 J. Johnson Typogr. II. 521 He examines if the beards of the letter print at the feet of the pages. 1860 Bookseller 26 Oct. 574 [In] the Franklin type‥there are no sharp beards to the letters, and the outline is consequently distinct.


12. ‘The coarser parts of a joint of meat. The bad portions of a fleece of wool.’ Halliwell.


13. The brim or margin of a vessel. [Directly from ON. barð.] Obs. or dial., but possibly the origin of some of the prec. specific uses.

1398 Trevisa Barth. De P.R. xvii. liii, Þe wyne wol flete oute ouer þe berdes [1535 brynke]. c1440 Promp. Parv. 32 Berde, or brynke of a wesselle, or other like, margo


14. Comb., chiefly attrib., as beard-brush, beard-hook, beard-stubble; also beard-grass, the genus of grasses Polypogon; †beard-grave a., having the gravity of a bearded face; beard-moss, a British lichen (Usnea barbata); beard-tree, the Hazel.

1630 B. Jonson New Inn i. i, He'll tell you what is Latin for a looking-glass, A *beard-brush. 1841 Withering's Brit. Plants (Macgillivray) 73 Annual *Beard-grass‥grows in moist pastures. 1599 Marston Sc. Villanie iii. x. 222 Tut, tut, a toy‥Cryes *beard-graue Dromus. 1799 G. Smith Laborat. II. 266 The *Beard Hook, by some anglers is preferred before any other in winter trolling. 1837 Carlyle Fr. Rev. III. v. iii. 268 Plenteous‥*beard-stubble, of a tile-colour.