Word of the day – moustache


Today’s word, moustache, (mustache in American English) comes via the French moustache, the Italian mostaccio or the Spanish mostacho, from the Medieval Greek moustakion, a diminutive of mystax, “upper lip, moustache”, which is related to mastax, “jaws, mouth”, lit. “that with which one chews”.

This week there have been quite a lot of blokes with huge beards or impressive moustaches wandering round town. I’ve been wondering why – ZZ Top aren’t performing here, as far as I know. Today I discovered the reason – the World Beard and Moustache Championship is currently being held at the Brighton Centre (I kid you not). I saw some impressive beards and moustaches (attached to their owners, of course) when I went past earlier.

Here are a couple of facial hair-related factoids for you: shaving become general among the Romans in 450 BC, partly to avoid being held by the beard during close combat, and ever since Pope Leo III shaved off his beard in 795 AD, most Roman Catholic clergy have been clean shaven.

Source: Online Etymology Dictionary

This entry was posted in English, Language, Words and phrases.

6 Responses to Word of the day – moustache

  1. renato figueiredo says:

    In Portuguese is bigode /bi-go-de/ bee-go-de (as in demon)

  2. renato figueiredo says:

    I found a very interesting list
    Spanish- bigotes, mostacho, bigote
    Tagalog- bigote
    Albanian – mustaque
    Basque – bibote
    Cheyenne – mé’hahtse
    Croatian – brk, brkovi
    Czech – knír
    Danish – overskaeg
    Dutch – snor, knevel
    Esperanto – lipharoj
    Estonian – vuntsid, vurrud
    Finnish – viikset, viiksi
    French –moustache
    Gbari – egbeyi
    German – Schnurrbart
    Haitian Creole – moustache
    Hindi – mooch
    Hungarian – bajusz
    Icelandic – efrivararskegg
    Indonesian – kumis
    Irish – croiméal
    Italian – baffi
    Japanese – hige, hanahige
    Korean – kotsuyeom
    Latvian – üsas
    Malay – misaim
    Naskapi – wiistuw
    Norwegian – bart
    Ojibwe – miishidoon’an
    Old Frisian – kenep
    Old Nahuatl – tentzontli
    Papiamento – bigoti, mustashi
    Polish –was
    Quechua – sunkha
    Romanian – mustatã
    Russian –ycbi
    Serbian- brkovi, brk
    Slovak – fúzy
    Swedish – mustasch
    Tamil – misaim
    Tetum- ibun-rahun
    Turkmen – murt
    Ukarinian – BYCA, BYC

    Sorry for possible mistakes in Polish, Turkish, Romanian, I don’t have proper font. By the way I use moustache, or bigode (in Portuguese since my 15 years old, I’m now 45y.o.

  3. I heard an explanation somewhere that the reason that English “bigot” and Spanish “bigote” seem so much alike despite the WIDE difference in meaning is that both are descendents of the word “Visigoth” and thus refer to things associated with the Germanic tribes: facial hair and barbaric behavior (seen from a Roman view, of course).

    And interesting explanation as to why some cultures would prefer not to shave!

  4. *prefer TO shave


  5. renato figueiredo says:

    Some women love to feel a beautiful moustache in their necks, accompained by a kiss. It’s only a joke

  6. Jack says:

    I heard that in Tok Pisin from PNG, moustache is called ‘mausgras’ deriving from the English ‘mouth’ ‘grass’.

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