I came across the wonderful German word Schnurrbart [ˈʃnʊrba:ɐ̯t] recently and just liked the sound of it. The Bart part means beard – you can see the connection – and the Schnurr part comes from schnurren (to purr).

According to Wikipedia: “Ein Schnurrbart ist ein über der Oberlippe wachsender Bart.” or “A moustache is an beard growing over the lip”, and it is also referred to as an Oberlippenbart (overlipbeard). A large moustache is called a Schnauzbart (Schnauze = lip, muzzle, snout).

Other words used for moustache in German include Bürste (brush), Schnauzer (a type of dog), Schnorres, Schnorrati, Sör, Rotzbremse (“snot brake”) and Popelfänger (“bogie catcher”). Do you know/use any others?

Other words for moustache in English include tache/tash, whiskers, face fungus, tea/soup strainer, snot catcher/mop, lip rug, and crumb catcher.

The English word moustache comes from French, from the Neapolitan word mustaccio.

Do moustaches have interesting names or nicknames in other languages?

Sources: bab.La dictionary, PONS dictionary, Wikipedia,, OED

This entry was posted in English, Etymology, German, Language.

5 Responses to Schurrbart

  1. BG says:

    In the US, I’ve heard ‘stache a lot but never tache.

  2. Shenn Ghaelgeyr says:

    In Gaelg (Manx Gaelic), ‘moustache’ is ‘farveeal’ – literally, ‘false mouth’.

  3. David Eger says:

    I remember Schnurrbart from school German lessons, but never knew the derivation.

    I can’t think of any generic terms in English, other than those already listed, but there are varous terms for different styles (and natural growth habits) of moustache, e.g. pencil, walrus, handlebar, toothbrush (now stigmatised by Mr. H.) etc.

    As an aside, I’ve heard a number of different English pronunciations of the word moustache:
    /məˈstɑːʃ/, /məˈstæʃ/, /’mʌs dæʃ/, /məˈstɒʃ/; also, variants with /ʊ/ as the first vowel and/or the -ch- realised as /tʃ/.

    You occasionally also hear moustachio/mustaccio /mʊ ‘sta ʃi əʊ/ in English usage.

  4. boris Kopit says:

    I am almost sure that Schnurbart comes from German “Schnur” meaning a string, rope, which what a thin mustache of that kind (over the lip) reminds one of.

  5. luke says:

    (this comment was too short) Flavor saver (this comment is no longer too short)

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