AskDefine | Define longhair

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A person with hair longer than the norm, especially someone viewed as bohemian, non-conventional or a hippie.
  2. A person with a deep interest in the classical arts, especially music.
  3. A person considered to have excessively refined taste for the arts.


  1. In the context of "Slightly disapproving|Music": Concerning or characteristic of classical music.
    I would rather see a musical, but my wife who loves longhair music, is dragging me to the symphony again.

See also

Extensive Definition

This article is about human head hair. For other uses, see Longhair (disambiguation) or Hair
Long hair is any hairstyle which is relatively long. Long hair has become a lifestyle and trend. Exactly what constitutes "long hair" can change from culture to culture, or even within cultures. For example, a woman with chin-length hair may be said to have short hair, while a man with the same length of hair would be said to have long hair. Scientists view long hair as playing a large part in any animal species' natural selection, since hair length is frequently a sign of health. Freudian psychoanalysts also see it in a sexual light, as a representation of the id's release from the suppression of the superego. As a descriptive term, it has been applied to Merovingians and classical music enthusiasts, as well as hippies and aesthetes. Hair is thus considered to be a potent sexual emblem, both for men and women, having many parallels with intercourse.

Western culture

In the Bible

Men in Old Testament times often would go for long periods of time without cutting their hair to show devotion to God. They were called Nazirites. Samson is one example; his strength depended upon his refraining from cutting his hair. The New Testament, however, says, "Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering." The statement was given in a time when hairstyles were changing from what was considered to be a normal (and longer) length, to a short-cropped haircut. Short-cropped hair and a shaven face was a pagan tradition that grew from the expansion of Rome. Paul may have gotten the idea because he was Roman, since there is no law elsewhere in the Bible teaching that long hair is a shame or even what qualifies as such. (with the exception of unkempt hair styles). There are even references in the Bible where having no hair, baldness, or a shaven head or beard is a shame.

Classical period

The ancient Greeks had several heroes which wore their hair long, including Zeus, Achilles, Hector, and Poseidon. Both Greek and Trojan soldiers are said to have worn their hair long in battle. Such warriors considered it a sign of aristocracy and are said to have combed it openly in order to show off. Also, in order to keep enemies from getting a hold of it in battle, they were known to cut the front short, but leave it long in the back, where it was more out of reach. Around the sixth century, however, the Greek men shifted to shorter hairstyles.Women in the culture remained with the longer style, which for them showed freedom, health, and wealth, as well as good behavior. In men, it was considered a sign of false pride by this time. Women in Roman times valued long hair, usually with a center part. Men's hair was usually shorter than women's, although other cultures of the time, such as Greeks in the east, considered long hair to be typical of philosophers, who were thought to be too engrossed in learning to bother with hair. Strictly in the province of Rome, however the shorter hairstyle was especially popular.

Up to the seventeenth century

In the European middle ages, shorter hair often signified servitude and peasantry, while long hair was often attributed to freemen, such as the Germanic Goths and Merovingians. Often, non-Germanic cultures such as Byzantines viewed these "long-haired men" as barbarians specifically citing their hair as proof. In Ireland, English colonists who wore their hair long in the back were considered to be rejecting their role as English subjects and giving in to the Irish life. Irishman, in turn, scolded others of their race who moved into English culture by cutting their hair. Thus, hair length was one of the most common ways of judging a true Englishman in this period. Muslims in Christian areas were ordered to keep their hair short and parted, as their longer style was considered rebellious and barbaric. When African slaves were freed in America, they struggled to reach the social status of whites. Many former slaves tried to conform their hairstyles as part of this struggle. Women, especially, felt pressure to make their hair long and smooth like white women, rather than keeping the shorter, frizzier style they had known. However, during the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, African-Americans such as Malcolm X advocated hairstyles such as afros and dreadlocks, in order to express their individuality and freedom as a race, and to return to African roots. More recently, scholars have pointed out the continued pressure on blacks to have long, smooth hair. Amelian Jones points out that dolls for children, such as Barbies, add to this pressure, citing as an example a new black Barbie with long hair. Blacks, she believes, should be able to be themselves without feeling pressured to "tame" their hair.


Asian cultures as a whole tend to view long hair as a sign of youth and femininity. Usually, long hair is hidden in turbans or tied up in public, as long hair is associated with private life and sexuality. Asian cultures see long, unkempt hair in a woman as a sign of sexual intent or a recent sexual encounter, as usually their hair is tied up. Common Buddhists have long hair, while Buddhist monks have shaved heads. In Jewish and other cultures, shortening hair signifies mourning and sadness. Both Islamic and Christian missionaries to the Chinese were strong advocates of shorter hair for their converts, but this was a small group. Around the Destruction of Four Olds period in 1964, almost anything seen as part of Traditional Chinese culture would lead to problems with the Communist Red Guards. Items that attracted dangerous attention if caught in the public included jewelry and long hair. These things were regarded as symbols of bourgeois lifestyle, that represented wealth. People had to avoid them or suffer serious consequences such as tortures and beatings by the guards. Li Yang, an unorthodox Chinese English teacher who brands the popular Crazy English, claims the following on his website: What [America, England and Japan] want most is for China’s youth to have long hair, wear bizarre clothes, drink soda, listen to Western music, have no fighting spirit, love pleasure and comfort!
In Southeast Asia and Indonesia, long hair was valued in until the seventeenth century, when the area became subservient to outside influences including Islam and Christianity. Invading cultures enforced shorter hairstyles on men as a sign of servitude, as well. They were also confused at the short hairstyles among women in certain areas, such as Thailand, and struggled to explain why women in the area had such short hair. They came up with several mythical stories, one of which involved a king who found a long hair in his rice and, in a rage, demanded that all women keep their hair short.


longhair in German: Langes Haar

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Methuselah, antediluvian, antique, back number, conservative, dad, dodo, elder, fogy, fossil, fud, fuddy-duddy, granny, has-been, matriarch, mid-Victorian, mossback, old believer, old crock, old dodo, old fogy, old liner, old man, old poop, old woman, old-timer, patriarch, pop, pops, reactionary, regular old fogy, relic, square, starets, traditionalist
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