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[hair-ee] /ˈhɛər i/
adjective, hairier, hairiest.
covered with hair; having much hair.
consisting of or resembling hair:
moss of a hairy texture.
  1. causing anxiety or fright:
    a hairy trip through the rapids.
  2. full of hardship or difficulty:
    a hairy exam; a hairy illness.
Origin of hairy
1250-1300; Middle English heeri. See hair, -y1
Related forms
hairiness, noun
unhairiness, noun
unhairy, adjective
1. furry, woolly, shaggy. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for hairy


adjective hairier, hairiest
having or covered with hair
  1. difficult or problematic
  2. scaring, dangerous, or exciting
Derived Forms
hairiness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for hairy

early 14c., from hair + -y (2). From 1848 in slang sense of "difficult." Farmer calls this "Oxford slang." Perhaps from the notion of "rugged, rough." Related: Hairiness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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hairy in Medicine

hairy hair·y (hâr'ē)
adj. hair·i·er, hair·i·est

  1. Covered with hair or hairlike projections.

  2. Consisting of or resembling hair.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for hairy



  1. Old; hoary: a hairy tale (1940s+)
  2. Difficult; rough; tough: We had a hairy time getting it all organized (1848+)
  3. Frighteningly dangerous; hair-raising; scary: Campus guards would comb the dorm ''It was hairy''/ the hairy strip of 42d Street (1940s+ Teenagers)

[last sense probably fr the hairy monsters of horror films, but the sense of ''difficult'' was used at 19th-century Oxford, and that of ''dangerous'' in the British armed forces of the 1930s]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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hairy in Technology

1. Annoyingly complicated. "DWIM is incredibly hairy."
2. Incomprehensible. "DWIM is incredibly hairy."
3. Of people, high-powered, authoritative, rare, expert, and/or incomprehensible. Hard to explain except in context: "He knows this hairy lawyer who says there's nothing to worry about." See also hirsute.
The adjective "long-haired" is well-attested to have been in slang use among scientists and engineers during the early 1950s; it was equivalent to modern "hairy" and was very likely ancestral to the hackish use. In fact the noun "long-hair" was at the time used to describe a hairy person. Both senses probably passed out of use when long hair was adopted as a signature trait by the 1960s counterculture, leaving hackish "hairy" as a sort of stunted mutant relic.
4. hairy ball.
[Jargon File]

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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