from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Any of the long stiff hairs that are located chiefly on the muzzle of most mammals and that function as tactile organs, as the whiskers of a cat.
  • noun One of several long modified feathers located at the sides of the mouth of insect-eating birds.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • In mammalogy, one of the long, stiff bristles which grow upon the upper lip and elsewhere upon the head of most mammals; a whisker, as of a cat.
  • In ornithology, a rictal bristle; one of the special set of long, slender, bristle-like or bristly feathers, devoid of vexilla proper, which grow in a series along each side of the rictus or gape of the mouth of many birds, as flycatchers, goatsuckers, and others.
  • In human anatomy, one of the hairs which grow in the nostrils.
  • In entomology, one of the projecting lateral bristles on the upper border of the peristomium or mouth-cavity of certain Diptera.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Anat.) One of the specialized or tactile hairs which grow about the nostrils, or on other parts of the face, in many animals, as the so-called whiskers of the cat, and the hairs of the nostrils of man.
  • noun (Zoöl.) The bristlelike feathers near the mouth of many birds.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun Any of the tactile whiskers on the nose of an animal such as a cat
  • noun Any similar feather near the mouth of some birds

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a long stiff hair growing from the snout or brow of most mammals as e.g. a cat


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[From Late Latin vibrissae, nostril hairs, from vibrāre, to vibrate; see vibrate.]


  • Each facial vibrissa is linked with 50 to 200 nerve fibers.


  • Each facial vibrissa is linked with 50 to 200 nerve fibers.

    Archive 2006-09-01

  • On its way to the food-box, no matter whether the box be slightly or strikingly different from its companion box, the dancer may go by way of the wrong box, may take a few turns, cut some figure-eights, or even spin like a top for seconds almost within vibrissa-reach of the food-box, and all this even though it be very hungry.

    The Dancing Mouse A Study in Animal Behavior

  • Accents and grinding stones is hand carved Pink Sapphire, Emerald, subtly hidden shell, from a marine's dazzling diamond vibrissa hug.


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  • This is one of those strange words that sounds like a posh woman's name.... doesn't someone have a list of those?

    January 12, 2008

  • Actually, it sounds more like something a posh woman would use to...ummm...Hey! How about those Patriots?

    January 13, 2008

  • Nice catch there, skipvia.

    January 14, 2008

  • ~ tactile bristle such as cat's whisker; bristly hair

    January 18, 2009

  • brisker whisker

    July 28, 2011

  • When traveling how sorely I miss her,

    My cat, the beguiling Clarissa!

    How sad 'tis to slumber

    Where she'll not encumber

    Nor wake to a tickling vibrissa.

    January 6, 2017