whisker

[hwis-ker, wis-]
noun
1.
whiskers, a beard.
2.
Usually, whiskers. side whiskers.
3.
a single hair of the beard.
4.
Archaic. a mustache.
5.
one of the long, stiff, bristly hairs growing about the mouth of certain animals, as the cat or rat; vibrissa.
6.
Also called whisker boom, whisker pole. Nautical. any spar for extending the clew or clews of a sail so that it can catch more wind.
7.
Radio, Electronics. cat whisker.
8.
Crystallography. a thin filament of a crystal, usually several millimeters long and one to two microns in diameter, having unusually great strength.
Idioms
9.
by a whisker, by the narrowest margin: She won the race by a whisker.

Origin:
1375–1425; late Middle English; see whisk, -er1

whiskery, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
whisker (ˈwɪskə)
 
n
1.  Technical name: vibrissa any of the stiff sensory hairs growing on the face of a cat, rat, or other mammal
2.  any of the hairs growing on a person's face, esp on the cheeks or chin
3.  (plural) a beard or that part of it growing on the sides of the face
4.  informal (plural) a moustache
5.  whisker boom, Also called: whisker pole any light spar used for extending the clews of a sail, esp in light airs
6.  chem a very fine filamentary crystal having greater strength than the bulk material since it is a single crystal. Such crystals often show unusual electrical properties
7.  a person or thing that whisks
8.  a narrow margin; a small distance: he escaped death by a whisker

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

whisker
"hair of a man's face" (usually plural), c.1600, originally a playful formation, from M.E. wisker "anything that whisks or sweeps" (early 15c.); see whisk (v.). In ref. to animal lip hair, recorded from 1670s.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
After exploring an environment such as a maze, rats typically pause to eat,
  groom or rub their whiskers.
We would come home to find the sugar bowl half licked out and sugar crystals
  stuck all over his whiskers.
Eyes close and squint, nose bulges, cheeks bulge and mice also pull back their
  little round ears and move their whiskers.
But at the door, she stumbled backwards against a good-looking officer with a
  fresh, open face and splendid thick fair whiskers.
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