Buy A Friend A Book Week (and beards)

Buy A Friend A Book WeekI do. The irre­press­ible (not that you’d want to) Debra Hamel is run­ning anoth­er Buy A Friend A Book Week. Across the blo­go­sphere, word geeks are a-chat­ter and read­ers are care­fully select­ing books to send their friends. I’ve con­sidered run­ning a counter pro­mo­tion called ‘Buy An Enemy A Book Week’ but there are only so many cop­ies of Life of Pi.

Win a copy of my book!

To cel­eb­rate BAFAB Week, I’m giv­ing away one signed copy of my sci­ence fic­tion nov­el, Déjà Vu. To win it, all you have to do is add a com­ment to this post. You can provide a reas­on that illus­trates how deserving you are, if you want, but your entry will be judged solely on your use of the word ‘beard’.


Writers don’t seem to have beards any more. Sure, you’ve got your Hemmingways, Kings, and, well…various oth­ers, but it is no exag­ger­a­tion to say they’re sadly lack­ing from the writ­ing pop­u­la­tion at large. I used to work in a psy­cho­logy depart­ment, and we had an impress­ive num­ber of beards. I would ven­ture that the beard­less men were some­what frowned upon. Anyway, in pre­par­a­tion for my winter hiberna­tion, a cer­tain amount of hair­i­ness has seized my chin and gripped my jowls. (See pictori­al evid­ence below.)

There’s always a debate when one grows a beard. To what extent will it repel the ladies? Well, since I’m spoken for, I don’t need to worry about that. Will it itch? Perhaps. Will its insu­lat­ing prop­er­ties cause my brain to over­heat dur­ing light exer­cise? Certainly. So I was vacil­lat­ing about wheth­er to shave it off. Last night, how­ever, the girl­friend and I took receipt of two friends who have arrived from Germany, and one of them asked me about this unholy fur on my face, using the German for beard, ‘Bart’. Ah-hah! I thought. There is clearly an ety­mo­lo­gic­al con­nec­tion between ‘beard’ and ‘bard’. I’ll keep the beard!

During a quick vis­it to the OED, which con­firmed that my ini­tial intu­ition about the con­nec­tion was quite, quite wrong, I came across a num­ber of phrases under the entry for ‘beard’ that I feel duty-bound to share with you, dear read­er.

Phrase Meaning
in spite of or maugre any one’s beard in defi­ance of or dir­ect oppos­i­tion to his pur­pose
to be, meet, or run in any one’s beard to oppose him openly and res­ol­utely, to BEARD.
to take by the beard to attack res­ol­utely
to make a man’s beard (lit.) to dress his beard, (fig.) to out­wit or delude him
to make a man’s beard without a razor (in later sense) to behead him
to put some­thing against a man’s beard to taunt him with it
to one’s beard to one’s face, openly

Examples of usage: “Can you believe the Prime Minister of Great Britain would stoop so low as to take Mr Hussein by the beard? It comes as little sur­prise, per­haps, giv­en the latter’s con­stant beard­ing and the frankly can­ine per­sist­ence that drives him to shove his weapons of mass destruc­tion in Mr Blair’s beard, and, fam­ously, oth­er beards. One would hardly be sur­prised if our illus­tri­ous premi­er took Mr Hussein’s beard without a razor. The whole situ­ation beg­gars my beard.”

So! Think up your own expres­sion that involves the word ‘beard’ and post a com­ment below! The best will get a copy of my book.

Me with beard; Copyright (c) The Beard

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Author: Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

20 thoughts on “Buy A Friend A Book Week (and beards)”

  1. To braid the beard — make things appear as they are not

    Mr. Bush has braided the beard on the issue of WMD.

    To suck the beard — to in essense “kiss up” to anoth­er

    The appear­ance of Mr. Blair suck­ing the beard of Mr. Bush has forced him from office.

    Hope you enjoy!

  2. Very good, Tom. You are cor­rect to sur­mise that a beard can only be an advant­age in such a com­pet­i­tion.

    Suck the beard’ is good.

    Old timer detect­ive to rook­ie cop: “Don’t suck my beard, kid.”

  3. It isn’t just the beards — I’m ter­ribly wor­ried about the new gen­er­a­tion of fantasy writers who don’t wear hats. It just ain’t right…

  4. I must run in the OED’s beard. English ‘beard’ and German ‘bart’ are indeed related, and I will take any man by the beard, and then *make* that man’s beard with a razor (or a dull spoon) should he dare say oth­er­wise.

    I’m incap­able of grow­ing a beard, myself. Maybe that’s why so many of my char­ac­ters seem to have them. And please don’t go in my beard by sug­gest­ing it’s because I write his­tor­ic­al fic­tion. No, I *like* beards, and when I grow up (40–45?) I will have a massive one.


  5. Hi Joe — I’ll have a chance to check out Pratchett’s beard/hat combo when he comes to Exeter in the near future. I’ll give it a quick tug before secur­ity wrestle me to the ground. I have a feel­ing that whole thing is a one-piece assembly that is dropped on his head each morn­ing a la Wallace’s tank-top putter-onner.

  6. Let go of my beard, Martin! English ‘beard’ and German ‘bart’ are indeed related, but I meant there was no (appar­ent) con­nec­tion to the English word ‘bard’ (which is Celtic, I think).

    Beardly yours,

  7. A beard is man’s nat­ur­al state. I love beards. In fact I once con­tem­plated mak­ing a Flickr col­lec­tion of men with beards — see this post —
    – but nev­er ser­i­ously got around to it.
    I fell for my part­ner when he had a beard, but about 3 weeks after I star­ted see­ing him he shaved it off. I’ve tried per­suad­ing him to regrow it but, 23 years later, he still hasn’t. Curses!
    But there is always Viggo (Aragorn) .

  8. Most obvi­ous one I can think is actu­ally a real one. The token girl­friend or wife of a gay guy is often called “a beard” because she’s just there to con­ceal his true sexu­al­ity.

    I remem­ber a hil­ari­ous trick some­body played on Captain Haddock in Tintin — just before he went to bed, they asked him if he slept with his beard above or below the cov­ers. Haddock was up all night won­der­ing.

    Oh, and if you have a small goat­ee beard, you’re evil. Like ‘Evil Spock’ in that epis­ode of Star Trek. And in South Park, where the kids went to a par­al­lel dimen­sion and they all had beards.

  9. Although this isn’t a ‘say­ing’, I wanted to share this quote about beards with you– from The Dead Secret by Wilkie Collins. Made me laugh when I read it 🙂

    In the year 1844, the fact of a man’s not shav­ing was regarded by the enlightened major­ity of the English nation as a proof of unsound­ness of intel­lect.”

    He was at that very time…one of the sharpest men of busi­ness in London…but what did these advant­ages avail him, in the estim­a­tion of his neighbours,…when he wore a hairy cer­ti­fic­ate of lun­acy of the lower part of his face?”

  10. I agree, Maxine. It only gets in an unnat­ur­al state when bits of food are stuck in it…

  11. I once had someone come to my blog by googling this ques­tion:

    How do you shave your neck with a beard?”

  12. Roger, I wish I could sum­mon some sur­prise at that…but I’m just too jaun­diced. (Good title for a post, though.)

  13. Nibbling at the beard”

    That is, to have arrived at a state of des­ti­tu­tion (in con­di­tion, thought, action, etc.) due to attri­tion. (As in one who is so starved that his only susten­ance is got­ten from the crumbs that remain in his beard from meals long eaten.)

    Example: Though his ini­tial works were highly lauded, the film maker has been nib­bling at the beard for some time.

  14. My romantic entan­gle­ments have only ever been with men with beards — how­ever they have had to be full sets. Moustaches, goat­ees and vari­ations will not do. Frankly I think they look a bit sad — as if the hor­mone level is lack­ing. I think it is the cave woman in me.

    My best beloved has only ever shaved his beard off once (for any exten­ded peri­od) and was even­tu­ally forced to grow it back again because our two year old refused to have any­thing to do with him. In fact he cried when the beard­less fath­er approached. It may have been the beard­less face or it may have been the lacer­a­tions — shav­ing, as well as being time-con­sum­ing is also a skil­ful activ­ity, it appears.

    Sometimes the best­beloved has to shave the beard off in order to wear a gas mask to go on ‘t’plant’. This is obvi­ously a dis­turb­ing time for me and I wel­come the new bristly growth like the first buds of spring.

    One final note: I used to think that beards gave Arctic explorers addi­tion­al pro­tec­tion dur­ing exped­i­tions but appar­ently this is not the case — beards in fact can cause frost­bite. I am sure where I read this but it does explain why the Inuit face tend to be quite beard­less.

    Enough, enough. I seem to know more about beards than is alto­geth­er healthy. I am nev­er com­ing near this blog again in case you start me off on somethng else. I really must go away and do some­thing.

  15. I have stumbled upon your blog and am now ter­ri­fied by all this talk of beards and the Life of Pi in one post­ing!!
    However, am I too late to win the signed copy?

  16. Ok. I was ter­ri­fied — but now I return.
    I have searched the BNC for humour­ous qirks with the word beard in them. And there are none. Because beards are really really ter­ri­fy­ing things!
    But here are some BNC beard entries:

    CDN 2181 I sure thought there was a writer hid­den behind that beard of yours.’

    FPF 385 His massive head was framed by red hair that met beard spread­ing to his chest. (see how ter­ri­fy­ing!)

    G3B 567 And with the beard of the Emperor

    HGJ 1756 He had shaved off his beard. (I like this one!)

    I love the BNC. But then again, I am sad like that!
    (Is that bet­ter?)

  17. Not bad, Caroline, but you have to come up with your own (or at least pla­gi­ar­ise in silence)! BTW, I’m jeal­ous that you have access to a corpus…so much more use­ful than a dic­tion­ary when you’ve stared at a sen­tence for an hour and the pre­pos­i­tions don’t seem right any­more.

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