Herman Melville Has 25 Words for Beard

We recently stumbled upon an amazing list compiled by the always insightful Towering Irrelevance: 25 different words that Herman Melville uses to describe beards in two chapters of White Jacket, his 1850 novel based on his experience crewing on a US frigate in the South Seas for ten years. We all know what happens to men’s facial hair when they’re aboard a boat for too long. It gets a little crazy — unless they’re aboard the Black Pearl, of course, and then they’re Orlando Bloom and their sketchy goatee is always perfect. Click through for Melville’s list — and a few of our 30-second sketches of what he might have meant.

Melville’s Beards:

the crop

suburbs of the chin



long, trailing moss hanging from the bough of some aged oak


Winnebago locks

carroty bunches

rebellious bristles

redundant mops

yellow bamboos

long whiskers

thrice-noble beards

plantations of hair


nodding harvests

viny locks

the fleece

fine tassels



sacred things

admiral’s pennant



Are you a New Yorker who loves beards? Check out The 2011 Brooklyn Beardfest and Stache Bash on January 31st at Union Hall.