Words related to comb

honeycomb (n.)

Old English hunigcamb; see honey (n.) + comb (n.). This use of the Germanic "comb" word seems to be peculiar to English, and the likeness is not obvious. Perhaps the image is from the comb used in wool-combing, but that extended sense of comb is not attested before Middle English. In other Germanic languages the word for it is "honey-string," "honey-cake," "bee-wafer," etc. Latin has favus, Greek melikerion

Transferred use, in reference to various structures resembling honeycomb, is from 1520s. As a verb, from 1620s (implied in honeycombed).


Proto-Indo-European root meaning "tooth, nail." 

It forms all or part of: cam (n.1) "projecting part of a rotating machinery;" comb; gem; oakum; unkempt.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit jambha-s "tooth;" Greek gomphos "peg, bolt, nail; a molar tooth;" Albanian dhemb "tooth;" Old English camb "comb." 

unkempt (adj.)

1570s, from un- (1) "not" + kempt "well-combed, neat," from variant past participle of Middle English kemben "to comb," from Old English cemban "to comb," from Proto-Germanic *kambijan, from *kamb- "comb" (from PIE root *gembh- "tooth, nail." ). Form unkembed is recorded from late 14c. The verb kemb is rare after 1400s, but its negative past participle form endures.

cam (n.1)

1777, "a projecting part of a rotating machinery used to impart motion to another part," from Dutch cam "cog of a wheel," originally "comb," from Proto-Germanic *kambaz "comb," from PIE root *gembh- "tooth, nail." It is thus a cognate of English comb (n.). This might have combined with English camber "having a slight arch;" or the whole thing could be from camber.

It converts regular rotary motion into irregular, fast-and-slow rotary or reciprocal motion. "The original method was by cogs or teeth fixed or cut at certain points in the circumference or disc of a wheel ..." [OED]. Cam-shaft attested from 1850.

cockscomb (n.)

c. 1400, "comb or crest of a cock," from possessive of cock (n.1) + comb (n.). Meaning "cap worn by a professional fool" is from 1560s; hence "conceited fool" (1560s), a sense passing into the derivative coxcomb. As a plant name, from 1570s.

numb (adj.)

c. 1400, nome, "deprived of motion or feeling, powerless to feel or act," literally "taken, seized," from past participle of nimen "to take, seize," from Old English niman "to take, catch, grasp" (from PIE root *nem- "assign, allot; take"). The unetymological -b (to conform to comb, limb, etc.) appeared 17c. The notion is of being "taken" with palsy, shock, and especially cold. Figurative use is from 1560s.

beach-comber (n.)

1840, from beach (n.) + agent noun from comb (v.). Century Dictionary (1889) defines it as "A seafaring man generally, of vagrant and drunken habits, who idles about the wharves of seaports; used most frequently in countries bordering on the Pacific ocean." The original reference (Dana, "Two Years Before the Mast") used the word to describe the life of "half of the Americans and English who are adrift along the coasts of the Pacific and its islands."

It also could mean "a long, rolling wave."

comber (n.)

c. 1200 (as a surname), "one who cards wool," agent noun from comb (v.). Meaning "a long, curling wave" is 1840, American English, from comb (v.), in reference to a wave, "roll over with a white foam" (1808), which is perhaps from resemblance to a fowl's comb.