Beards represent more than mere facial hair. Beard style names.
William Shakespeare’s opinion about beards: “He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man.”
Rebecca West’s take: “In England and America a beard usually means that its owner would rather be considered venerable than virile; on the continent of Europe it often means that its owner makes a special claim to virility.”
In a culture where clean-shaven faces are the rule, a bearded man might be considered a renegade. In other cultures, a well-maintained beard implies wisdom and academia.
Untamed facial hair might be the hallmark of a wild spirit — a Bohemian artist, perhaps, or a brilliant scientist who doesn’t care about societal norms. Or it might be the product of abject laziness.
A beard can hide wrinkles and facial flaws, or make a young person appear more mature. It won’t defeat facial-recognition software, but a misinformed fugitive might not know that. Story prompt?
And watch out for the bearditude on that hunk sporting his meard. His testeronish attitude might be less than mandorable.
Any emotion involving chin movement will affect a person’s beard. Scrutinize the following list. Each emotion includes a chin or beard movement, followed by an example of complementary body language.
Arrogance, Disdain, Superiority
Raised chin while looking down the nose
Chin supported on knuckles of one hand
Confusion, Dismay, Puzzlement
Contemplation, Deliberation, Indecision
Fingers supporting chin or side of jaw
Chin lowered to the chest
Chin held against chest (instinctively protecting chin and throat)
Lips pressed into a thin line
Lifted chin, exposed Adam’s apple (instinctive exhibition of trust)
Beard styles for businessmen
Chin trembling while character rubs his beard
Pride, Satisfaction, Self-Assurance, Smugness
Playing with one’s beard
Faking confidence by raising one’s chin
Careful, writers. Descriptors often express characters’ opinions. Used incorrectly, they break point of view.
abundant, adolescent, almost-a-beard, ample, artsy-fartsy, asymmetrical, badly trimmed, beardazzling, beardiful, beardtastic, bellybutton-length, bifurcated, bizarre, blood-soaked, bookish, bountiful, boyish, braided, brambly, bristly, bushy
classic, classy, clean, close-trimmed, coarse, combed, comical, conservative, copious, corkscrew, crazy, crooked, crumb-filled, crusty, curly, day-old, debonair, dense, dingy, disheveled, distinctive, downy, drab, dudeish
eccentric, elegant, false, fashionable, fast-growing, fatherly, feeble, feral, fierce, filthy, flaky, frizzy, full, fuzzy, genuine, glorious, goatish, grandfatherly, greasy, groomed, grubby
half-grown, handsome, healthy, heavy, hipster, hunky, immaculate, immense, impressive, inadequate, incipient, itchy, jaunty, kinked, knotted, large, leprechaun, lice-infested, limp, long, lopsided, lousy, lumbersexual, lush, lustrous, luxuriant
magnificent, mandorable, manly, mantastic, massive, mature, meager, memorable, messy, meticulous, mossy, moth-eaten, narrow, neat, never-cut, oiled, one-inch, outlandish, outstanding
patchy, pathetic, patriarchal, peculiar, pedantic, pencil-thin, perfumed, plaited, pointed, pointy, preposterous, presentable, prickly, prodigious, profuse, prolific, promising, ragged, rakish, ratty, razor-cut, razor-trimmed, real, rebellious, rich, rugged, rumpled
scanty, scented, scholarly, scraggly, scratchy, sculpted, seedy, sensuous, serviceable, sexy, shabby, shaggy, shaped, sharp, shiny, short, silken, silly, six-month, skimpy, slimy, soft, sophisticated, sparse, splendid, spotty, stiff, straggly, straight, stringy, stubbly, stubby, studly, stumpy, styled, stylish, suitable, superb
tangled, tapered, testeronish, thick, thin, thinning, tidy, tousled, traditional, trendy, trimmed, uncombed, unconventional, uncut, undisciplined, uneven, unforgettable, unhealthy, uniform, unkempt, unruly, unsymmetrical, untamed, untidy, untrimmed
venerable, virgin, voluminous, waist-length, wavy, weather-beaten, well-kept, whacky, wide, wild, wind-blown, wiry, wispy, wooly, youthful, zany
Good writing and poetry engage readers with imaginative similes and metaphors. Avoid excessive repetition of like, opting instead for indirect comparisons.
A promise of a thorough tummy tickling
Like a freshly mowed lawn
Like a plush carpet of dreams
More pedantic than his writing
almond, auburn, black, black-and-grey, bleached, blond [Blonde would refer to a female’s beard.], brown, butternut, calico, cinnamon-and-pepper, coal-black, cool-blond, discolored, dyed [insert color], fair, fiery, flaxen, golden, grey, grizzled, gruff-grey, hazel, honey and nutmeg
paprika and pepper, pepper-grey, prematurely grey, red, ruddy, russet, rusty, salt-and-pepper, sandy, silver, silvery, soot-black, sooty, speckled-grey, spotty black, stained, steel-grey, straw-colored, streaked, tan, tawny, virulent-red, warm-blond, white, yellowed-grey
Anything that touches the lips or chin transfers its scent to beards. Here are a few idea starters.
A beard might smell like, reek of, or be redolent with the scent of:
aftershave, another woman’s perfume, baby barf, bacon, bananas, beer, a brothel, camphor, candy canes, carrion, cedar, chocolate, cigarettes, cigars, cleaning solution, coconut, coffee, a corpse, cotton candy
dead fish, decomp, diesel fuel, dirty feet, earth, embalming liquid, excrement, garlic, gasoline, a graveyard, lavender, licorice, manure, marijuana, mint, moss, moth balls, mouthwash, nachos, onions, the outdoors
paint, peanut butter, pine needles, pipe tobacco, pizza, plastic, rancid meat, rhinoceros sweat, rotten cabbage, rotten dishrag, sardines, a sewer, a sweaty armpit, toothpaste, urine, vanilla, Vicks VapoRub, vomit, weed, wet dog, wet garbage, wet wool, wood chips, wood smoke
An upscale barber would likely refer to beards by their official shapes and style names. Someone less informed might devise descriptors such as shovel-shaped or pointy.
anchor, Balbo, Bandholz, chin curtain, chin strap, circle, Dadhi, ducktail, Dutch, ecclesiastical, extended goatee, forked, French fork, full, Garibaldi, goatee, grandfather, heart-shaped, hipster, imperial, Lincoln, lumberjack, Moses, mutton chops
Napoleonic, oval, pointed, pointy, professorial, rabbinical, shovel-shaped, soul patch, spade-shaped, spiked, square, stiletto, tapered, terminal, triangular, U-shaped, Van Dyke, Verdi, Viking, V-shaped, wedge-shaped, Wolverine
More than hairy objects sitting on a man’s chin, beards move, cause sensations in their owners, and evoke emotions in others.
adorn, aggravate, amaze, annoy, astonish, attract, bother, bounce, bristle, bug, burgeon, catch (crumbs, grated cheese), catch in, chafe, charm, cloak, coil, cover, curl
dangle, decorate, delight, develop, disappoint, discourage, disgruntle, dishearten, dissatisfy, drape, drift, drip with perspiration, drip with saliva, droop, dwindle, exasperate, fascinate, flap, flourish, flow, flutter, frustrate, get trapped in, gnarl, grow
hang, impress, intertwine, intrigue, irritate, itch, kink, knot, mat, narrow, offend, peeve, pique, prickle, rebound, reek, riffle, ripple
scratch, shed, shroud, smell, snag, snarl, soften, spill, spiral, sprawl, spread, spring, sprout, stiffen, stink, straggle, stray, swathe, sway, swing
Mustache and beard styles names
tangle, taper, thicken, thin, tickle, tingle, titillate, torment, trail, trap (coal dust, odors, soot), twist, upset, vex, wave, wrap
Writers sometimes replace beard with words from the Shapes and Styles section. For example: goatee, mutton chops, Van Dyke.
Some of the words here would be suitable for urban fiction or dialogue.
afternoon shadow, beardilocks, beardlet, beardo, beardsicle, beardstrum, break-up beard, bristles, Canadian scarf, cheard (beard that reaches from face to chest), chin curtain, chin dust, chin limpet, chin pelt, chin whiskers, crumb catcher, duck rug, face bush, face fungus, face fur, face fuzz, face lace, face pants, face prickle, face salad, face sweater, facefro, facewig, facial hair, Friday o’clock shadow, fungus face
graubart (greybeard), I.T. beard, jakebeard, juror’s beard, lady tickler, layoff beard, mansulation, meard (manly beard), neckard, Novembeard, permastubble, playoff beard, rugbeard, scrubble, side-whiskers, stubbeard, stubble, tweard (two-year beard), unibeard, Unix beard, wannabe-beard, whiskers, wizard whiskers, yeard (one-year beard), zeard (beard filled with zits)
Does your character have a condition that makes his beard itchy? Does he spend an hour in front of the mirror every morning grooming it? Maybe he works in a factory where it gets trapped in machinery. Or maybe a woman wears a false beard and tries to pass herself off as a male.
alopecia, bald patch(es), beard balm, beard butter, beard net, beard oil, beardruff (beard dandruff), bee, bowtie, cigar, cigarette, collar, comb, curling iron, dandruff, dye, eczema, exfoliation, ginger dust (dandruff), impetigo, joint, long earring,
machinery (cogs and gears), MedicAlert ID, microphone, Movember, neck chain, necktie, pipe, pollution mask, razor, ribbon(s), scar, scarf, scissors, shaving cream, sleep mask, spaghetti, styling gel, surgical mask, transplant, turtleneck, wasp, wax
Avoid the following and similar expressions whenever possible, or invent new phrases.
You could replace biker’s beard with a descriptor that incorporates a specific make of bike. The make could lend humor, intrigue, or fear. There’s a huge difference between a scooter and a Harley.
Five o’clock shadow? Passé. Consider George Orwell’s 1984 opener: “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” Maybe a protagonist could sport a twenty-five o’clock shadow.
Soft as velvet. Humdrum. What else is soft? Marshmallows — and maybe the protagonist has a personality to match. Perhaps try dandelion fluff, a kitten, or a baby’s bath towel.
Create a comparison that suits the context.
“A scrubby beard covered his face to the cheekbones, giving him an air of ruffianism that went oddly with his large weak frame and nervous movements.” ~ George Orwell, 1984
Have you ever encountered an imaginative passage that persisted in your memory long after you finished reading a book? That should be the legacy you want to leave your readers.