(The title of this post to be pronounced a la Battle of the Planets.) It’s high time that I announce the winner of my beard idiom competition, which was run in support of Debra Hamel’s Buy a Friend a Book Week. Well, the best beard idiom supplied in the comments has to be Freeven’s ‘nibbling at the beard’. Thusly:
“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.