AskDefine | Define beard

Dictionary Definition

beard

Noun

1 the hair growing on the lower part of a man's face [syn: face fungus, whiskers]
2 a tuft or growth of hairs or bristles on certain plants such as iris or grasses
3 a person who diverts suspicion from someone (especially a woman who accompanies a male homosexual in order to conceal his homosexuality)
4 hairy growth on or near the face of certain mammals
5 tuft of strong filaments by which e.g. a mussel makes itself fast to a fixed surface [syn: byssus] v : go along the rim, like a beard around the chin; "Houses bearded the top of the heights"

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Etymology

, West Germanic *barthaz (cognate with Middle Dutch baert and German Bart).

Pronunciation

Noun

  1. Facial hair on the chin, cheeks and jaw.
  2. (gay slang) A woman who accompanies a gay male in order to give the impression that he is heterosexual.

Derived terms

Translations

facial hair
woman accompanying a gay male

Verb

  1. To boldly and bravely oppose or confront, often to the chagrin of the one being bearded.
    Robin Hood is always shown as bearding the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Extensive Definition

A beard is the hair that grows on a human's chin, cheeks, neck, and the area above the upper lip (the opposite is a clean-shaven face). Typically, only post-pubescent males are able to grow beards. When differentiating between upper and lower facial hair, a beard specifically refers to the facial hair on the lower part of a man's chin (excluding the moustache, which refers to hair above the upper lip and around it). The study of beards is called pogonology.
In the course of history, men with facial hair have been ascribed various attributes such as wisdom, sexual virility, or high social status; and, conversely, filthiness, crudeness, or an eccentric disposition, such as in the case of a tramp, hobo or vagrant. In many cultures beards are associated with nature and outdoorsmen.

History

Ancient and classical world

Pre-classical civilizations

The highest ranking Ancient Egyptians grew hair on their chins which was often dyed or hennaed (reddish brown) and sometimes plaited with interwoven gold thread. A metal false beard, or postiche, which was a sign of sovereignty, was worn by queens as well as kings. This was held in place by a ribbon tied over the head and attached to a gold chin strap, a fashion existing from about 3000 to 1580 BC.
Mesopotamian civilizations (Assyrian, Babylonian, Chaldean, Median and ancient Persian) devoted great care to oiling and dressing their beards, using tongs and curling irons to create elaborate ringlets and tiered patterns.
In ancient India, the beard was allowed to grow long, a symbol of dignity and of wisdom (cf. sadhu). The nations in the east generally treated their beards with great care and veneration, and the punishment for licentiousness and adultery was to have the beard of the offending parties publicly cut off. They had such a sacred regard for the preservation of their beards that a man might pledge it for the payment of a debt.
The Persians were fond of long beards. In Olearius' Travels, a King of Persia commands his steward's head to be cut off, and on its being brought to him, remarks, "what a pity it was, that a man possessing such fine mustachios, should have been executed," but he adds, "Ah! it was your own fault."

Ancient Greece

The ancient Greeks regarded the beard as a badge of virility which it was a disgrace to be without; and in the Homeric time it had even a sanctity as among the Jews, so that a common form of entreaty was to touch the beard of the person addressed. It was only shaven as a sign of mourning, though in this case it was instead often left untrimmed. A smooth face was regarded as a sign of effeminacy. The Spartans punished cowards by shaving off a portion of their beards. From the earliest times, however, the shaving of the upper lip was not uncommon. Grecian beards were also frequently curled with tongs.
In the time of Alexander the Great the custom of smooth shaving was introduced. Reportedly, Alexander ordered his soldiers to be clean shaven, fearing that their beards would serve as handles for their enemies to grab and to hold the soldier as he was killed. The practice of shaving spread from the Macedonians, whose kings are represented on coins, etc. with smooth faces, throughout the whole Greek world. Laws were passed against it, without effect, at Rhodes and Byzantium; and even Aristotle, we are told, conformed to the new custom, unlike the other philosophers, who retained the beard as a badge of their profession. A man with a beard after the Macedonian period implied a philosopher, and we have many allusions to this custom of the later philosophers in such proverbs as: "The beard does not make the sage."

Ancient Rome

Shaving seems to have not been known to the Romans during their early history (under the Kings of Rome and the early Republic). Pliny tells us that P. Ticinius was the first who brought a barber to Rome, which was in the 454th year from the founding of the city (that is, around 299 BC). Scipio Africanus was apparently the first among the Romans who shaved his beard. However, after that shaving seems to have caught on very quickly, and soon almost all Roman men were clean-shaven - being clean-shaven became a sign of being Roman and not Greek. Only in the later times of the Republic did many youths shave the beard only partially, and trimmed it so as to give it an ornamental form; other young men oiled their chins to force a premature growth of beard.
Still, beards remained rare among the Romans throughout the Late Republic and the early Principate. In a general way, in Rome at this time, a long beard was considered a mark of slovenliness and squalor. The censors L. Veturius and P. Licinius compelled M. Livius, who had been banished, on his restoration to the city to be shaved, and to lay aside his dirty appearance, and then, but not till then, to come into the Senate. The first time of shaving was regarded as the beginning of manhood, and the day on which this took place was celebrated as a festival. Usually, this was done when the young Roman assumed the toga virilis. Augustus did it in his twenty-fourth year, Caligula in his twentieth. The hair cut off on such occasions was consecrated to some god. Thus Nero put his into a golden box set with pearls, and dedicated it to Jupiter Capitolinus. The Romans, unlike the Greeks, let their beards grow in time of mourning; so did Augustus for the death of Julius Caesar. Other occasions of mourning on which the beard was allowed to grow were, appearance as a reus, condemnation, or some public calamity.
In the second century A.D. the Emperor Hadrian, according to Dion, was the first of all the Caesars to grow a beard; Plutarch says that he did it to hide scars on his face. This was a period in Rome of widespread imitation of Greek culture, and many other men grew beards in imitation of Hadrian and the Greek fashion. Until the time of Constantine the Great the emperors appear in busts and coins with beards; but Constantine and his successors to the end of the sixth century, with the exception of Julian, are represented as beardless.

Barbarian customs

Tacitus states that among the Catti, a Germanic tribe (perhaps the Chatten), a young man was not allowed to shave or cut his hair until he had slain an enemy. The Lombards or Longobards, derived their fame from the great length of their beards. When Otho the Great said anything serious, he swore by his beard, which covered his breast.

From the Renaissance to the present day

In the 15th century, most European men were clean-shaven. Clergymen in 16th century England were usually clean shaven to indicate their celibacy. When a priest became convinced of the doctrines of the Protestant Reformation he would often signal this by allowing his beard to grow, showing that he rejected the tradition of the church and perhaps also its stance on clerical celibacy. The longer the beard, the more striking the statement. Sixteenth century beards were therefore suffered to grow to an amazing length (see the portraits of John Knox, Bishop Gardiner and Thomas Cranmer). Some beards of this time were the Spanish spade beard, the English square cut beard, the forked beard, and the stiletto beard.
Strangely, this trend was especially marked during Queen Mary's reign, a time of reaction against Protestant reform (Cardinal Pole's beard is a good example). Queen Elizabeth I, succeeding Mary, is said to have disliked beards and therefore established a tax on them.
In urban circles of Western Europe and the Americas, beards were out of fashion after the early 17th century; to such an extent that, in 1698, Peter the Great of Russia levied a tax on beards in order to bring Russian society more in line with contemporary Western Europe.
Throughout the 18th Century beards were unknown among most parts of Western society, especially the nobility and upper classes.
Beards returned strongly to fashion after the Napoleonic Era. Throughout the nineteenth century facial hair (beards, along with long sideburns and moustaches) was more common than not. Many male European monarchs were bearded (e.g. Alexander III of Russia, Napoleon III of France, Frederick III of Germany), as were many of the leading statesmen and cultural figures (e.g. Benjamin Disraeli, Charles Dickens and Giuseppe Verdi). The stereotypical Victorian male figure in the popular mind remains a stern figure clothed in black whose gravitas is added to by a heavy beard (or long sideburns). However, in the early twentienth century beards fell almost completely out of fashion once more; they became largely the preserve of elderly, old-fashioned eccentrics.
Beards, together with long hair, were reintroduced to mainstream society in Western Europe and the Americas by the hippie movement of the mid 1960s. By the end of the 20th century, the closely clipped Verdi beard, often with a matching integrated moustache, was relatively common.

Beards in North America

In the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, beards were rare in the United States. However, they had become prevalent by the mid-nineteenth century. Up to and following the American Civil War, many famous heroes and General officers had significant beards. A sign of the shift was to be observed in occupants of the Presidency: before Abraham Lincoln, no President had a beard; after Lincoln until William McKinley, every President (except Andrew Johnson) had either a beard or a moustache. The beard's loss of popularity since its nineteenth century heyday is shown by the fact that after this brief "golden age", no President has worn a full beard since Benjamin Harrison, and no President has worn any facial hair at all since William H. Taft.
Following World War I, beards fell out of vogue. There are several theories as to why the military began shaving beards. When World War I broke out in the 1910s, the use of chemical weapons necessitated that soldiers shave their beards so that gas masks could seal over their faces. The enlistment of military recruits for World War I in 1914 precipitated a major migration of men from rural to urban locales. This was the largest such migration that had ever occurred in the United States up to that time. The rural lives of some of these bearded men included the "Saturday Night bath" as a reality rather than a humorism. The sudden concentration of recruits in crowded army induction centers brought with it disease, including head lice. Remedial action was taken by immediately shaving the faces and cutting the hair of all inductees upon their arrival.
When the war concluded in 1918 the "Doughboys" returned to a hero's welcome. During this time period the Film Industry was coming into its own and "going to the movies" became a popular pastime. Due to the recent Armistice many of the films had themes related to World War I. These popular films featured actors who portrayed soldiers with their clean shaven faces and "crew cuts". Concurrently, "Madison Avenue's" psychological mass marketing was becoming prevalent. The Gillette Safety Razor Company was one of these marketers' early clients. These events conspired to popularize short hair and clean shaven faces as the only acceptable style for decades to come.
mainarticle Shaving in Judaism The Bible states in Leviticus 19:27 that "Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard." Talmudic rabbis understood this to mean that a man may not shave his beard with a razor with a single blade, since the cutting action of the blade against the skin "mars" the beard. Because scissors have two blades, halakha (Jewish law) permits their use to trim the beard, as the cutting action comes from contact of the two blades and not the blade against the skin. For this reason, most poskim (Jewish legal decisors) rule that Orthodox Jews may use electric razors to remain cleanshaven, as such shavers cut by trapping the hair between the blades and the metal grating, halakhically a scissor-like action. Some prominent contemporary poskim maintain that electric shavers constitute a razor-like action and consequently prohibit their use.
Many Orthodox Jews grow beards for social and cultural reasons. Since the electric razor is a relatively modern innovation, virtually all Orthodox Jews grew beards before its advent. Beards are thus symbolic of keeping the traditions of one's ancestors. The Zohar, one of the primary sources of Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism), attributes holiness to the beard, specifying that hairs of the beard symbolize channels of subconscious holy energy that flows from above to the human soul. Therefore, most Hasidic Jews, for whom Kabbalah plays an important role in their religious practice, traditionally do not remove or even trim their beards.
Also, some Jews refrain from shaving during the 30-day mourning period after the death of a close relative, known in Hebrew as the "Sheloshim" (thirty).

Christianity

Jesus is almost always portrayed with a beard in art originating from the Gothic period and later. In paintings and statues most of the Old Testament Biblical characters such as Moses and Abraham and Jesus' New Testament disciples such as St Peter are with beard, as was John the Baptist. John the Evangelist is generally depicted as clean-shaven in Western European art, however. Eight of the figures portrayed in the painting entitled The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci are bearded. Mainstream Christianity holds Isaiah Chapter 50: Verse 6 as a prophesy of Christ's crucifixion, and as so, as a description of Christ having his beard plucked by his tormentors. In recent past the beard trend is in decline among Christian communities.
In Eastern Christianity, beards are often worn by members of the priesthood, and at times have been required for all believers - see Old Believers. Amish and Hutterite men shave until they are married, then grow a beard and are never thereafter without one, although it is a particular form of a beard (see Visual markers of marital status). Many Syrian Christians from Kerala in India use to wear long beards.
Nowadays, members of many Catholic religious communities, mainly those of Franciscan origin, use a beard as a sign of their vocation. At various times in her history the Catholic Church permitted and prohibited facial hair. Some Messianic Jews also wear beards to show their observance of the Old Testament.

Islam

Many Muslims believe that growing a beard is required under Islamic law due to the saying of the Islamic prophet Muhammad that Muslim men should grow their beards and trim their mustaches.
In contemporary Muslim practice a longer beard is associated with Sunnis, a more closely trimmed beard with Shia Muslims. Accordingly, in Iraq where ethnic cleansing has taken place to make districts all-Sunni or all-Shi'a, members of the local minority adjust their beard style to avoid recognition.
According to the majority opinions in the four major Sunni schools of jurisprudence, a beard is mandatory for all men, unless they have a medical reason not to grow one. Minority opinions exist in all four schools that the beard is optional, but commendable.
Muhammad also was quoted as saying that growing the beard is part of the Abrahamic tradition that Muslims have inherited. Muslims believe that Allah commanded Abraham to keep his beard, shorten his mustache, clip his nails, shave the hair around his genitals, and pluck his armpit hair.

Rastafari Movement

A male Rastafarian's beard is a sign of his pact with God (Jah or Jehovah), and his Bible is his source of knowledge. Leviticus 21:5 ("They shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in the flesh.") Likewise, it is not uncommon for a Rastafarian beard to grow uncombed; like dreadlocks.

Beards in music

The 20th century American jazz drummer and bandleader Buddy Rich famously fired members of his band for wearing beards.http://www.cis.rit.edu/~ejipci/buddy_rich3.htm Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons of the famous rock band ZZ Top are also renowned for having very distinctive facial hair. Ironically, ZZ Top's drummer Frank Beard (called "Rube Beard" on earlier albums) is the one member of the group who, despite his surname, and sporting a mustache since the early days of the band, does not wear a beard. Alternative Folk musician Sam Beam, better known as Iron & Wine, is known for always sporting a full beard.
The Beatles, notably John Lennon (see Abbey Road cover), George Harrison, Paul McCartney (during the sessions for Let It Be), and Ringo Starr who also had a beard during Abbey Road and through till the present, sported full beards in the last days of the band. Also did Jim Morrison in the last few years of his life, but a few times shaved it off, as in his last days.
Several Heavy Metal musicians like Lemmy Kilmister, Kerry King, James Hetfield, Zakk Wylde, and Scott Ian sport beards.
Leland Sklar, a prolific session bass guitar player, is noted for his long hair and a long flowing beard. In the past few years ex-Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl has famously sported a beard.

Modern prohibition of beards

Religions

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)

LDS Church Presidents from Brigham Young to George Albert Smith all wore beards of some manner. But from the time of David O. McKay through Thomas S. Monson, general Church leaders have been uniformly clean-shaven. Mormon men in general have followed suit, though this is not mandated by scripture or Church policy. Having a beard does not disqualify a man from temple attendance, nor from serving in many positions of local leadership.
Full-time missionaries are clean-shaven as a matter of policy. Bishops and stake presidents are strongly encouraged not to grow facial hair. Students at Brigham Young University adhere to an Honor Code containing Dress and Grooming Standards. This includes the following language: "If worn, moustaches should be neatly trimmed and may not extend beyond or below the corners of the mouth. Men are expected to be clean shaven; beards are not acceptable." Exceptions are made for BYU students who must keep their beard for medical reasons. While such exceptions once applied to religious reasons as well, such is not the current administrative stance of BYU.

Sports

Today, for practical reasons (with some exceptions), it is illegal for amateur boxers to have beards. As a safety precaution, high school wrestlers must be clean-shaven before each match, though neatly trimmed moustaches are often allowed.
The Cincinnati Reds, Major League Baseball's oldest existing team, had a longstanding enforced policy where all players had to be completely clean shaven (no beards, long sideburns or moustaches). However, this policy was abolished following the sale of the team by Marge Schott.
Under owner George Steinbrenner, the New York Yankees baseball team has had a strict dress code that forbids long hair and facial hair below the lip. More recently, Willie Randolph and Joe Girardi, both former Yankee assistant coaches, adopted a similar clean-shaven policy for their ballclubs; the New York Mets and Florida Marlins, respectively. Fredi Gonzalez, who replaced Girardi as the Marlins' manager, dropped that policy when he took over after the 2006 season.
Playoff beard is a tradition common on some teams in the NHL and now in other leagues wherein players allow their beards to grow from the beginning of the playoff season until the playoffs are over for their team.

Armed forces

Canada

The Canadian Forces permits moustaches, provided they are neatly trimmed and do not pass beyond the corners of the mouth; an exception to this is the handlebar moustache, which is permitted. Generally speaking, beards are not permitted to CF personnel with the following exceptions:
  • members wearing the naval uniform (tradition)
  • members of an infantry pioneer platoon (tradition)
  • members who must maintain a beard due to religious requirements - (Muslims, Sikhs or orthodox Jews, for example)
  • members with a medical condition which precludes shaving
These exceptions notwithstanding, in no case is a beard permitted without a moustache, and only full beards may be worn (not goatees, van dykes, etc.).
Personnel with beards may still be required to modify or shave off the beard, as environmental or tactical circumstances dictate (e.g., to facilitate the wearing of a gas mask).
Beards are also allowed to be worn by personnel conducting OPFOR duties.

France

    • "The hair of the chin showed him to be a man." St Clement of Alexandria (c.195, E), 2.271
    • "How womanly it is for one who is a man to comb himself and shave himself with a razor, for the sake of fine effect, and to arrange his hair at the mirror, shave his cheeks, pluck hairs out of them, and smooth them!…For God wished women to be smooth and to rejoice in their locks alone growing spontaneously, as a horse in his mane. But He adorned man like the lions, with a beard, and endowed him as an attribute of manhood, with a hairy chest--a sign of strength and rule." St. Clement of Alexandria, 2.275
    • "This, then, is the mark of the man, the beard. By this, he is seen to be a man. It is older than Eve. It is the token of the superior nature….It is therefore unholy to desecrate the symbol of manhood, hairiness.” St. Clement of Alexandria, 2.276
    • "It is not lawful to pluck out the beard, man’s natural and noble adornment." St. Clement of Alexandria, 2.277
  • St Cyprian
    • "In their manners, there was no discipline. In men, their beards were defaced." St Cyprian (c. 250, W), 5.438
    • "The beard must not be plucked. 'You will not deface the figure of your beard'." (Leviticus 19:27) St. Cyprian, 5.553
  • Lactantius
    • "The nature of the beard contributes in an incredible degree to distinguish the maturity of bodies, or to distinguish the sex, or to contribute to the beauty of manliness and strength." Lactantius (c. 304-314, W), 7.288
  • Apostolic Constitutions
    • "Men may not destroy the hair of their beards and unnaturally change the form of a man. For the Law says, “You will not deface your beards.” For God the Creator has made this decent for women, but has determined that it is unsuitable for men." Apostolic Constitutions (compiled c.390, E) 7.392. (1)

Famous personalities with beards

Religious figures in scripture and/or history

Scientists

Fictional figures

Beard styles

Beard hair is most commonly removed by shaving. If only the area above the upper lip is left unshaven, the resulting facial hairstyle is known as a moustache; if hair is left only on the chin, the style is a chin beard. The combination of a moustache and a chin beard is a goatee or Van Dyck, unless the mustache and chin beard are connected, in which case it is known as a circle beard.
  • Full - downward flowing beard with either styled or integrated moustache
  • Sideburns - hair grown from the temples down the cheeks toward the jawline. Sometimes with a moustache.
  • Chinstrap - a beard with long sideburns that comes forward and ends under the chin, resembling a chinstrap, hence the name.
  • Garibaldi - wide, full beard with rounded bottom and integrated moustache
  • Casey - A full beard normally found on young adolescents, usually thinner until the owner gets older, when it will grow thicker than most.
  • Goatee - A tuft of hair grown on the chin, sometimes resembling a billy goat's.
  • Hollywoodian- A beard with integrated mustache that is worn on the lower part of the chin and jaw area, without connecting sideburns.
  • Reed - A beard with integrated mustache that is worn on the lower part of the chin and jaw area that tapers towards the ears without connecting side burns.
  • Royale - is a narrow pointed beard extending from the chin. The style was popular in France during the period of the Second Empire, from which it gets its alternative name, the imperial or impériale.
  • Stubble - a very short beard of only one to a few days growth. This became fashionable during the heyday of Miami Vice. During this time, a modified electric razor called the Miami Device became popular, which would trim stubble to a preset length.
  • Van Dyck - A goatee accompanied by a moustache.
  • Verdi - short beard with rounded bottom and slightly shaven cheeks with prominent moustache
  • Neck Beard - Similar to the Chinstrap, but with the chin and jawline shaven, leaving hair to grow only on the neck. While never as popular as other beard styles, a few noted historical figures have worn this type of beard, such as Henry Thoreau and Horace Greeley.
  • Soul patch - a small beard just below the lower lip and above the chin
  • Stashburns - long muttonchop type sideburns connected to a mustache, but with a shaved chin

See also

Further reading

  • Reginald Reynolds: Beards: Their Social Standing, Religious Involvements, Decorative Possibilities, and Value in Offence and Defence Through the Ages (Doubleday, 1949) (ISBN 0-15-610845-3)
  • Helen Bunkin, Randall Williams: Beards, Beards, Beards (Hunter & Cyr, 2000) (ISBN 1-58838-001-7)
  • Allan Peterkin: One Thousand Beards. A Cultural History of Facial Hair (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2001) (ISBN 1-55152-107-5)
  • A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs, David W. Bercot, Editor, pg 66-67.

References

beard in Arabic: لحية
beard in Aymara: Sunkha
beard in Azerbaijani: Saqqal
beard in Breton: Barv
beard in Bulgarian: Брада
beard in Catalan: Barba
beard in Czech: Plnovous
beard in Welsh: Barf
beard in Danish: Skæg
beard in German: Barthaar
beard in Dhivehi: ތުނބުޅި
beard in Spanish: Barba
beard in Esperanto: Barbo
beard in French: Barbe
beard in Indonesian: Janggut
beard in Icelandic: Skegg
beard in Italian: Barba
beard in Hebrew: זקן
beard in Latvian: Bārda
beard in Lithuanian: Barzda
beard in Hungarian: Szakáll
beard in Dutch: Baard (haargroei)
beard in Norwegian: Skjegg
beard in Polish: Broda (zarost)
beard in Portuguese: Barba
beard in Romanian: Barbă
beard in Russian: Борода
beard in Sicilian: Varva
beard in Simple English: Beard
beard in Finnish: Parta
beard in Swedish: Skägg
beard in Ukrainian: Борода
beard in Urdu: ڈاڑھی
beard in Võro: Habõnaq
beard in Yiddish: בארד
beard in Dimli: Erdişe
beard in Chinese: 鬍鬚

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Vandyke, affront, ascender, back, bag, ballocks, balls, basket, bastard type, beaver, bell the cat, belly, bevel, bid defiance, bite the bullet, black letter, body, brave, brazen, brazen out, breasts, bristles, call out, cap, capital, case, cervix, challenge, clitoris, cod, cods, confront, counter, cullions, dare, defy, descender, double-dare, down, em, en, face, face out, face the music, face up, face up to, family jewels, fat-faced type, feet, female organs, font, front, genitalia, genitals, goatee, gonads, groove, imperial, italic, labia, labia majora, labia minora, letter, ligature, lingam, lips, logotype, lower case, majuscule, male organs, meat, meet, meet boldly, meet head-on, minuscule, nick, nuts, nymphae, outdare, outface, ovary, peach fuzz, penis, phallus, pi, pica, point, print, private parts, privates, privy parts, pubic hair, pudenda, reproductive organs, rocks, roman, run the gauntlet, sans serif, scream defiance, script, scrotum, secondary sex characteristic, set at defiance, sex organs, shank, shoulder, show fight, side whiskers, small cap, small capital, speak out, speak up, spermary, stamp, stand up to, stare down, stem, stubble, testes, testicles, tuft, type, type body, type class, type lice, typecase, typeface, typefounders, typefoundry, upper case, uterus, vagina, venture, vulva, whisker, whiskers, womb, yoni
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