A crew cut is a type of haircut in which the hair on the top of the head is cut relatively short, graduated in length from the longest hair at the front hairline to the shortest at the back of the crown. The hair on the sides and back of the head is usually tapered short, semi-short, or medium. A short crew cut is sometimes referred to as a butch, though with the exception of variant forms, a butch differs from a crew cut in that the top hair is cut a uniform short length. A long crew cut can be referred to in the US as an ivy league crew cut or ivy league. A long crew cut might be graduated in length on the top of the head from one and a half inches(38mm) at the front hairline to one half inch(13mm) at the back of the crown. A short crew cut might have a similar proportional graduated difference in the length of the hair on the top of the head. If a short crew cut is three fourths of an inch(19mm) at the front hairline, the length of the hair at the back of the crown might be one fourth of an inch(6mm.) A crew cut where the hair on the top of the head is graduated in length from the front hairline to a chosen point on the mid to back part of the crown as a flat plane, of level, upward sloping or downward sloping inclination is known as a flat top crew cut or flattop. Crew cuts, flattop crew cuts, butch cuts and ivy leagues can be referred to as buzz cuts; all are traditionally groomed with hair control wax, commonly referred to as butch wax.
The term, originally crew haircut, was most likely coined to describe the hairstyles worn by members of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Cornell and other university Crew teams, which were short to keep the hair from being blown into the face of the rower as the boat races down the course opposite the direction the rower is seated with both hands on the oars, making it impossible to brush the hair out of the face. The name drew a contrast to football haircuts, which had been long since 1889 when Princeton football players began wearing long hair to protect against head injury, thereby starting a trend, not altogether welcome; mop haired football players were frequently caricatured in the popular press. In 1895, the championship Yale football team appeared with "close-cropped heads" and subsequently long hair went out of style for football. Almost concurrently, the first helmets began to appear.
The crew cut, regardless of the term applied to the hairstyle, was not limited to, nor did the style originate in the United States. In English, the crew cut and flat top crew cut were formerly known as the pompadour or short pompadour, as well as the brush cut, and had been worn since at least the mid 18th century. The style went by other names in other languages; in French, coupe en brosse; in German, bürstenschnitt. A short pompadour with a flat top was considered the standard while a somewhat curved appearance across the top was suggested for wider foreheads and face shapes. The style with a flat top acquired the name brush top short pompadour and the style with a more rounded top, round top short pompadour. Prior to the invention of electric clippers with a motor in the handle in 1921 and their ensuing marketing and widespread use, barbers considered the perfect short pompadour to be the most time consuming style to trim.  Crew cuts were popular in the 1920's and 1930's among college students, particularly in the ivy league. The style was often worn as as a summer haircut for its cooling effect. Men inducted into the military in World War II were introduced to the style and a significant proportion continued to wear a crew cut in civilian life. As long hair became popular in the mid 1960's, the crew cut and its variants waned in popularity through the 1970's. Crew cuts have almost exclusively been worn by men and boys, especially those of high school and college age who want to be perceived as clean cut and athletic. 
See also 
- Trusty 1971, p. 108.
- Trusty 1971, p. 107.
- Thorpe 1967, p. 132.
- Trusty 1971, p. 107-108.
- Trusty 1971, p. 113.
- Trusty 1971, p. 97.
- Trusty 1971, p. 102.
- Thorpe 1967, p. 133-134.
- Trusty 1971, pp. 110-111.
- "John Hay Whitney Philanthropist, Film Producer, and Father of the Crew Cut". Yale Alumni Magazine. April 2002.
- "Pompadours Passe Says Barber; Collegetown Condemns Crew Cuts". The Cornell Daily Sun 100 (Number 141). 25 March 1937.
- "Obecure Origins of the Crew Haircut Revealed by Harvard Square Barbers". The Harvard Crimson. 23 November 1935.
- "Two-Fisted, Stout Jawed Movie Idol Plus Crew Haircut Resembles Composite Undergraduate". The Daily Princetonian 65 (Number 46). 27 March 1940.
- Beau Riffenburgh, The Official NFL Encyclopedia: "The Helmet"
- Moler 1911, p. 82-83.
- Moler 1911, p. 82.
- Thorpe 1958, p. 141.
- History of Andis
- Andis, Our History
- Thorpe 1967, p. 120.
- "Crew Haircut With Back Sheared Is The Male Method For Beating The Heat". Life 11 (Number 2). 14 July 1941.
- "The Men 300,000 New Sailors Will Make The Navy Their Career". Life 9 (Number 18). 28 October 1940.
- Victoria Sherrow (2006), Encyclopedia of hair, p. 194, ISBN 9780313331459
- "The Great Hair Hangup". Boys' Life: 45. July 1967.
- "The Great Hair Hangup". Boys' Life: 29. July 1967.
- Victoria Sherrow (2006), Encyclopedia of hair, p. 54, ISBN 9780313331459
- Kaminsky (10 May 1974), "Long Hair-Style Trends Cut Short", The Cornell Daily Sun 100 (Number 141)
- Victoria Sherrow (2006), Encyclopedia of hair, p. 101, ISBN 9780313331459
- "MANNERS & MORALS: Teen-Age Moderation". Time. 16 February 1959.
- Moler, A.B. (1911). Standardized Barbers' Manual. Unnattributed Publisher.
- Thorpe, S.C. (1958). Practice and Science of Standard Barbering. Milady Publishing Corporation.
- Thorpe, S.C. (1967). Practice and Science of Standard Barbering. Milady Publishing Corporation.
- Trusty, L. Sherman (1971). The Art and Science of Barbering. Wolfer Printing Co.
|Look up crew cut in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- A brief description of the term's history in the Yale Alumni Magazine
- A brief description of the term's history in the Yale Daily News
- Agonies Of Victory For Comeback Crew Life Dec. 10 1956. Includes photos of crew cut Olympic Gold Medal winning Yale oarsmen.
- Crew Haircut With Back Sheared Is The Male Method For Beating The Heat Life July 14, 1941. Includes before and after photos.
- Obecure Origins of the Crew Haircut Revealed by Harvard Square Barbers Harvard Crimson November 23, 1935.
- Pompadours Passe Says Barber; Collegetown Condemns Crew Cuts Cornell Daily Sun March 25, 1937, Page 1
- Princeton Oarsmen Pick Bayard To Lead 1940 Varsity Crew. Includes photo of crew cut Crew Captain. The Daily Princetonian May 24, 1939
- Two-Fisted, Stout Jawed Movie Idol Plus Crew Haircut Resembles Composite Undergraduate The Daily Princetonian March 27, 1940