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Definition:  Of or pertaining to a barber or his work; often used humorously, as ‘a tonsorial artist’ or ‘tonsorialist’

Pronunciation: TAWN-sore-ee-uhl

Origin: This is another word that joined the English language straight from Latin, tonsori (-us) of shaving. It was first used in 1813 in Thomas Moore’s poem The Twopenny Post-Bag.”

Why this word?


I like this word because it gives the now common practice of a male hairdresser, aka a barber, gravitas. Take the red and white of the Barber’s Pole, white for hair dressing and red for surgeon. I’m sure you know, Barbers were once surgeons in the Middle Ages, pulling teeth and using blood-letting to stabilize the body’s humours.

Barbers have been around since the Bronze Age, and Barber shops were centers of social interaction and gossip as far back as Ancient Greece and Rome where the ritual and right of shaving was part of a man’s coming of age ceremony. Even today, especially in African-American culture, a trip to the barber shop is an integral part of male interaction and community building.

Unfortunately for modern Barbers, their just hairdressers now, and the big fancy word for their practice is primarily used for the sarcasm of giving gravitas to something that isn’t so important anymore.

How to use the word tonsorial in a sentence?


You can use this word anytime you want to class-up your trip to the Barbershop.

“This five’o’clock shadow can be abated by quick trip to my tonsorialist.”


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Written by Safia Dirie

Safia M. Dirie is a writer living in Los Angeles, California. Her dream is that every human English speaker on Earth has enough vocabulary words that "thing," "stuff," and the phrase "You know?" become obsolete.


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