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A moustache (UK: /məˈstɑːʃ/; American English: mustache, /ˈmʌstæʃ/)[1] is facial hair grown on the upper lip.


The word "moustache" is French, and is derived from the Italian moustacio (fourteenth century), dialectal mostaccio (16th century), from Medieval Latin moustaccium (eighth century), Medieval Greek μουστάκιον (moustakion), attested in the ninth century, which ultimately originates as a diminutive of Hellenistic Greek μύσταξ (mustax, mustak-), meaning "upper lip" or "facial hair",[2] probably derived from Hellenistic Greek μύλλον (mullon), "lip".[3][4]


Like the beard, not all ethnic groups can grow moustaches, possibly indicating that it serves a social symbol rather than a functional purpose such as filtering air or absorbing mucous from the nasal cavity. Research done on this subject has noticed that the prevalence of moustaches and facial hair in general rise and fall according to the saturation of the marriage market.[5] Thus, the nuances of the density and thickness of the moustache or beard may help to convey androgen levels or age.

Hungarian Hussar, circa 1550.

Moustaches worn by men in Western militaries trace their origins back to the 18th century Hungarian hussar cavalry units, which, in combination with their pronounced uniforms, were meant to strike fear into enemies. The moustache soon spread to other European light cavalry units including the 10th Light Dragoons, which became the 10th Royal Hussars in 1806. A moustache in the 19th century signified the difference between soldier and civilian, and was also a popular fashion among the aristocracy. Moustache popularity in the 19th century peaked in the 1880s and 1890s coinciding with a popularity in the military virtues of the day.[6]

A traditional Indian belief is that a man's facial hair is a sign of his virility. This caused a problem during the time of British Raj in the 19th Century and, as a result, Indian moustaches had a profound effect on British facial hair. The British Army, who were clean shaven until that time, had difficulty maintaining authority among the Indian soldiers, who saw their officers' lack of a moustache, beard and sideburns as a lack of manliness. Eventually British officers began to cultivate moustaches and other facial hair to gain the respect of their troops. The trend of sporting a moustache spread quickly through the army and then back home amongst the general British civilian population.[7][8]

Various cultures have developed different associations with moustaches. For example, in many 20th-century Arab countries, moustaches are associated with power, beards with Islamic traditionalism, and lack of facial hair with more liberal, secular tendencies.[9] In Islam, trimming the moustache is considered to be a sunnah and mustahabb, that is, a way of life that is recommended, especially among Sunni Muslims. The moustache is also a religious symbol for the male followers of the Yarsan religion.[10]

Shaving with stone razors was technologically possible from Neolithic times. A mustache is depicted on a statue of the 4th Dynasty Egyptian prince Rahotep (c. 2550 BC). Another ancient portrait showing a shaved man with a moustache is an ancient Iranian (Scythian) horseman from 300 BC.

Development and care[edit]

A moustache spoon, dated 1904, used in Edwardian England to protect the moustache while eating soup.

The moustache forms its own stage in the development of facial hair in adolescent males.[11]

As with most human biological processes, this specific order may vary among some individuals depending on one's genetic heritage or environment.[12][13]

Moustaches can be tended through shaving the hair of the chin and cheeks, preventing it from becoming a full beard. A variety of tools have been developed for the care of moustaches, including safety razors, moustache wax, moustache nets, moustache brushes, moustache combs and moustache scissors.

In the Middle East, there is a growing trend for moustache transplants, which involves undergoing a procedure called follicular unit extraction in order to attain fuller, and more impressive facial hair.[14]

The longest moustache measures 4.29 m (14 ft) and belongs to Ram Singh Chauhan (India). It was measured on the set of the Italian TV show "Lo Show dei Record" in Rome, Italy, on 4 March 2010.[15]

Time-lapse animation of a moustache grown for 30 days.


The World Beard and Moustache Championships 2007 had six sub-categories for moustaches:[16]

  • Dalí – narrow, long points bent or curved steeply upward; areas past the corner of the mouth must be shaved. Artificial styling aids needed. Named after Salvador Dalí.
  • English moustache – narrow, beginning at the middle of the upper lip the whiskers are very long and pulled to the side, slightly curled; the ends are pointed slightly upward; areas past the corner of the mouth usually shaved. Artificial styling may be needed.
  • Freestyle – All moustaches that do not match other classes. The hairs are allowed to start growing from up to a maximum of 1.5 cm beyond the end of the upper lip. Aids are allowed.
  • Hungarian – Big and bushy, beginning from the middle of the upper lip and pulled to the side. The hairs are allowed to start growing from up to a maximum of 1.5 cm beyond the end of the upper lip.
  • Imperial – whiskers growing from both the upper lip and cheeks, curled upward (distinct from the royale, or impériale)
  • Natural – Moustache may be styled without aids.

Other types of moustache include:

Occurrence and perceptions[edit]

Self-portrait of sculptor Friedrich Hammer, 1542 (Musée historique de Haguenau)

Like many other fashion trends, the moustache is subject to shifting popularity through time. Though modern culture often associates moustaches with men of the Victorian Era, Susan Walton shows that at the start of the Victorian Era facial hair was "viewed with distaste" and that the moustache was considered the mark of an artist or revolutionary, both of which remained on the social fringe at the time.[17] This is supported by the fact that only one Member of Parliament sported facial hair from the years 1841-47.[17] However, by the 1860s, this had changed and moustaches became wildly popular, even among distinguished men, but by the end of the century, facial hair became passé once more.[17] Though one cannot be entirely sure as to the cause of such changes, Walton speculates that the rise of the facial hair trend was due largely in part to the impending war against Russia, and the belief that moustaches and beards projected a more 'manly' image, which was brought about by the so-called 'rebranding' of the British military and the rehabilitation of military virtues.[17] Moustaches became a defining trait of the British soldier, and until 1916, no enlisted soldier was permitted to shave his upper lip.[18] However, the next generation of men perceived facial hair, such as moustaches, to be an outdated emblem of masculinity and therefore there was a dramatic decline in the moustache trend and a clean-shaven face became the mark of a modern man.[17]


According to a study performed by Nigel Barber, results have shown a strong correlation between a good marriage market for women and an increased number of moustaches worn by the male population.[19] By comparing the number of males pictured in Illustrated London News sporting a moustache against the ratio of single women to single men, the similar trends in the two over the years would suggest that these two factors are correlated.[19] Barber suggests that this correlation may be due to the fact that men with moustaches are perceived to be more attractive, industrious, creative, masculine, dominant and mature by both men and women,[19] as supported by the research conducted by Hellström and Tekle.[20] Barber suggests that these perceived traits would influence a woman's choice of husband as they would suggest a high reproductive and biological qualities, and a capacity to invest in children, so when males must compete heavily for marriage they are more likely to grow a moustache in an attempt to project these qualities.[19] This theory is also supported by the correlation between beard fashion and women wearing long dresses, as shown by Robinson's study,[21] which then relates to the correlation between dress fashion and the marriage market, as shown in Barber's 1999 study.[22]

Age perception[edit]

The moustache and other forms of facial hair are globally understood to be signs of the post-pubescent male;[23] however, those with moustaches are perceived to be older than those who are clean-shaven of the same age.[23] This was determined by manipulating a photo of six male subjects, with varying levels of baldness, to have moustaches and beards and then asking undergraduate college students to rate both the photos of the men with facial hair and without facial hair in terms of social maturity, aggression, age, appeasement, and attractiveness. Regardless of how bald the subject was, the results found in relation to the perception of moustaches remained constant. Although males with facial hair were perceived, in general, to be older than the same subject pictured without facial hair,[24] the moustached subjects were also perceived to be far less socially mature.[23] The decreased perception of social maturity of the men with moustaches may partially be due to the increase in the perception of aggression in the moustachioed men,[23] as aggression is incompatible with social maturity.[23]


In a study performed by J. A. Reed and E. M. Blunk, persons in management positions were shown to positively perceive, and therefore be more likely to hire, men with facial hair.[25] Although men with beards over all scored better than men with only moustaches, the moustached men scored much higher than those men who were clean-shaven.[25] In this experiment, 228 persons, both male and female, who held management positions that made hiring decisions were shown ink sketches of six male job applicants. The men in these ink sketches ranged from clean-shaven, to moustachioed, to bearded. The men with facial hair were rated higher by the employers on aspects of masculinity, maturity, physical attractiveness, dominance, self-confidence, nonconformity, courage, industriousness, enthusiasm, intelligence, sincerity, and general competency.[25] The results were found to be fairly similar for both female and male employers, which Reed and Blunk suggest would imply that gender does not factor into one's perceptions of a moustache on a male applicant.[25] However, Blunk and Reed also stipulate that the meaning and acceptability of facial hair does change depending on the time period. However, the studies performed by Hellström & Tekle[20] and also the studies performed by Klapprott[26] would suggest that moustaches are not favourable to all professions as it has been shown that clean-shaven men are seen as more reliable in roles such as salesmen and professors. Other studies have suggested that acceptability of facial hair may vary depending on culture and location, as in a study conducted in Brazil, clean-shaven men were preferred by personnel managers over applicants who were bearded, goateed, or moustached.[27]


African-American men tend to have a higher percentage of wearing a mustache compared to Caucasian men in the United States: "A far greater percentage of African-American males than white males wear mustaches today and have always worn mustaches."[28]


In Western culture, it has been shown that women dislike men who displayed a visible moustache or beard, but preferred men who had a visible hint of a beard such as stubble (often known as a five-o-clock shadow) over those who were clean-shaven.[29] This supports the idea that in Western culture, females prefer men who have the capability to cultivate facial hair, such as a moustache, but choose not to. However some researchers have suggested that it is possible that in ecologies in which physical aggressiveness is more adaptive than cooperation, bearded men might be preferred by women.[23] However, varying opinion on moustaches is not reserved to international cultural differences as even within the US, there have been discrepancies observed on female preference of male facial hair as Freedman's study suggested that women studying at the University of Chicago preferred men with facial hair because they perceived them to be more masculine, sophisticated and mature than clean-shaven men.[30] Similarly, a study performed by Kenny and Fletcher at Memphis State University, which is largely a commuter school and usually is regarded as more conventional than the University of Chicago, suggested that men with facial hair such as moustaches and beards, were perceived as stronger and more masculine by female students.[31] However, the study performed by Feinman and Gill would suggest that this reaction to facial hair is not nationwide, as women studying in the state of Wyoming showed a marked preference for clean-shaven men over men with facial hair.[32] Some accredit this difference to the difference between region, rurality, and political and social conservatism between the various studies.[32] Thus it can be seen that even within the US, there are slight variations in the perceptions of moustaches.


In addition to various cultures, the perception of the moustache is also altered by religion as some religions support the growth of a moustache or facial hair in general, whereas others tend to reject those with moustaches, while many churches remain somewhat ambivalent on the subject.


While Amish men grow beards after marriage and never trim them, they eschew moustaches and continue shaving their upper lips. This is rooted in a rejection of the German military fashion of sporting moustaches, which was prevalent at the time of the Amish community's formation in Switzerland; hence serving as a symbol of their commitment to pacifism.[citation needed]


Though it is never explicitly stated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that all male members must be clean-shaven, within Mormon circles it is often considered "taboo" for men to have moustaches as the missionaries of the church are required to be clean-shaven as well as the honor code of Brigham Young University requiring students to have similar grooming standards. This has become somewhat of a social norm within the church itself.[33] This often leads those members who do choose to wear moustaches feel somewhat like they do not quite fit the norm, and yet in the studies shown done by Nielsen and White, these men reportedly do not mind this feeling and that is why they continue to grow their facial hair.[33]


Even though facial grooming is not specifically mentioned within the Qur'an, numerous narrations of hadith (sayings of Muhammad) address personal hygiene, including facial hair maintenance.[34] In one such example, Muhammad advised that men must grow beards, and as to moustaches, cut the longer hairs as to not let them cover the upper lips (as this is the Fitra—the origin).[35] Thus, growing a beard while keeping the moustache short and trimmed is a well-established tradition in many Muslim societies.[34]

Notable moustaches[edit]


The longest moustache measures 4.29 m (14 ft) and belongs to Ram Singh Chauhan of India. It was measured on the set of Lo Show dei Record in Rome, Italy, on 4 March 2010.[36]

In some cases, the moustache is so prominently identified with a single individual that it could identify him without any further identifying traits. For example, Kaiser Wilhelm II's moustache, grossly exaggerated, featured prominently in Triple Entente propaganda. Other notable individuals are Hitler, Mugabe and Steve Harvey. In other cases, such as those of Charlie Chaplin and Groucho Marx, the moustache in question was artificial for most of the wearer's life.

In art, entertainment, and media[edit]


  • Moustache was the alias name of a French comic actor, François-Alexandre Galipedes (b. February 14, 1929 in Paris, France – d. March 25, 1987 in Arpajon, Essonne, France), known for his roles in Paris Blues (1961), How to Steal a Million (1966), and Zorro (1975)[37]

Fictional characters[edit]

  • Moustaches have long been used by artists to make characters distinctive, as with Charlie Chan, the video game character Mario, Hercule Poirot, or Snidely Whiplash.
  • Sharabi movie from Bollywood had a character Natthulal whose moustache became a legend. Munchhen hon to Natthulal jaisi, warna na hon (Moustaches should be like Natthulal's or shouldn't be at all) became one of the most quoted dialogue.
  • At least one fictional moustache has been so notable that a whole style has been named after it: the Fu Manchu moustache.


Visual art[edit]

They have also been used to make a social or political point as with:

In the military[edit]

Abhinandan moustache, named after Abhinandan Varthaman, wing-commander in the Indian Air Force, during the 2019 India-Pakistan standoff; the style is similar to a combination of an old, horseshoe-style gunslinger moustache and mutton chops worn by Franz Joseph I of Austria.[39]
  • In the Indian Army, most senior rifle Rajputana regiment soldiers have moustaches,[40][41][42] and the Rajputana Moustache is a symbol of dignity, caste status, and the spirit of Rajput soldiers.[43]
  • Moustaches are also noted among U.S. Army armour and cavalry soldiers.[44]
  • Moustaches were a compulsory part of the British Army uniform until 1916, and were quite often worn by soldiers later in the Falklands Campaign.

In sport[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ moustache is almost universal in British English while mustache is common in American English, although the third edition of Webster (1961), which gives moustache as the principal headword spelling. Later editions of Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary (from the 1973 eighth edition) give mustache.
  2. ^ μύσταξ, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  3. ^ μύλλον, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  4. ^ OED s.v. "moustache", "mustachio"; Encyclopædia Britannica Online – Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary
  5. ^ Barber, Nigel (2001). "Mustache Fashion Covaries with a Good Marriage Market for Women". Journal of Nonverbal Behavior. 25 (4): 261–272. doi:10.1023/A:1012515505895.
  6. ^ Oldstone-Moore, Christopher (20 November 2015). "The rise and fall of the military moustache". Retrieved 25 November 2018.
  7. ^ "India's Facial Hair Cutbacks". The Chap. 3 April 2009. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  8. ^ McCallum, Richard; Stowers, Chris (22 May 2008). Hair India – A Guide to the Bizarre Beards and Magnificent Moustaches of Hindustan. McCallum & Stowers. ISBN 978-8175259317.
  9. ^ "Syria's assassinated officials and other Arab leaders wear mustaches for the look of power". Slate Magazine. 18 July 2012.
  10. ^ Safar Faraji, Yarsan. "Another Yarsan follower's mustaches were shaved".
  11. ^ "Adolescent Reproductive Health" (PDF). UNESCO Regional Training Seminar on guidance and Counseling. 1 June 2002.
  12. ^ Chumlea, 1982
  13. ^ "The No-Hair Scare". PBS. Archived from the original on 5 February 2009. Retrieved 20 February 2009.
  14. ^ "Surgery offers chance at perfect moustache". 3 News NZ. 6 December 2012.
  15. ^ "Guinness World records".
  16. ^ "The World Beard & Moustache Championships". Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  17. ^ a b c d e Walton, Susan (2008). "From Squalid Impropriety to Manly Respectability: The revival of Beards, Mustaches and Marital Values in the 1850s in England". Nineteenth-Century Contexts. 30 (3): 229–245. doi:10.1080/08905490802347247.
  18. ^ Skelly, A. R. (1977). The Victorian Army at Home: The Recruitment and Terms and Conditions of the British Regiment, 1859–1899. London: Croom Helm. p. 358.
  19. ^ a b c d Barber, Nigel (2001). "Mustache Fashion Covaries with a Good Marriage Market for Women". Journal of Nonverbal Behavior. 25 (4): 261–272. doi:10.1023/A:1012515505895.
  20. ^ a b Hellström, Åke; Tekle, Joseph (1997). "Person Perception Through Photographs: Effects of Glasses, Hair, and Beard on Judgements of Occupation and Personal Qualities". European Journal of Social Psychology. 24 (6): 693–705. doi:10.1002/ejsp.2420240606.
  21. ^ Robinson, D. E. (1979). "Fashions in Shaving and Trimming of the Beard: The Men of the Illustrated London News". American Journal of Sociology. 81 (5): 1133–1141.
  22. ^ Barber, Nigel (1999). "Women's Dress Fashion as a Function of Reproductive Strategies". Sex Roles. 40 (5): 459–471. doi:10.1023/A:1018823727012.
  23. ^ a b c d e f Muscarella, F.; Cunningham, M.R. (1996). "The Evolutionary Significance and Social Perception of Male Pattern Baldness and Facial Hair". Ethology and Sociobiology. 17 (2): 99–117. doi:10.1016/0162-3095(95)00130-1.
  24. ^ Wogalter, Michael S.; Hosie, Judith A. (1991). "Effects of Cranial and Facial Hair on Perceptions of Age and Person". Journal of Social Psychology. 131 (4): 589–591. doi:10.1080/00224545.1991.9713892.
  25. ^ a b c d Reed, J. Ann; Blunk, Elizabeth M. (1990). "The Influence of Facial Hair on Impression Formation". Social Behavior & Personality. 18 (1): 169–175. doi:10.2224/sbp.1990.18.1.169.
  26. ^ Klapprott, Jürgen (1979). "Barba Facit Magistrum: An Investigation into the Effect of a Bearded University Teacher on His Students". Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Psychologie und Ihre Anwendungen. 35 (1): 16–27.
  27. ^ De Souza, Altay Alves Lino; Baião, Ver Baumgarten Ulyssea; Otta, Emma (2003). "Perception of Men's Personal Qualities and Prospect of Employment as a Function of Facial Hair". Psychological Reports. 92 (1): 201–208. doi:10.2466/pr0.2003.92.1.201.
  28. ^ "Archives -".
  29. ^ Cunningham, M. R.; Barbee, A. P.; Pike, C. L. (1990). "What do Women Want? Facialmetric Assessment of Multiple Motives in the Perception of Male Facial Physical Attractiveness". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 59 (1): 61–72. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.59.1.61.
  30. ^ Freedman, D. (1969). "The Survival Value of the Beard". Psychology Today. 3 (10): 36–39.
  31. ^ Kenny, Charles T.; Fletcher, Dixie (1973). "Effects of Beardedness on Person Perception". Perceptual and Motor Skills. 37 (2): 413–414. doi:10.2466/pms.1973.37.2.413. PMID 4747356.
  32. ^ a b Feinman, Saul; Gill, George W. (1977). "Female's Response to Male Beardedness". Perceptual and Motor Skills. 44 (2): 533–534. doi:10.2466/pms.1977.44.2.533.
  33. ^ a b Nielsen, Michael E.; White, Daryl (2008). "Men's Grooming in the Latter-day Saints Church: A Qualitative Study of Norm Violation". Mental Health, Religion & Culture. 11 (8): 807–825. doi:10.1080/13674670802087286.
  34. ^ a b Calcasi, Karen; Gokmen, Mahmut (2011). "The face of Danger: Beards in the U.S. Media's Representation of Arabs, Muslims, and Middle Easterners". Aether: The Journal of Media Geography. 8 (2): 82–96.
  35. ^ Sahih Bukhari, Book 8, Volume 74, Hadith 312 (Asking Permission). Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said "Five things are in accordance with the Fitra (i.e. the tradition of prophets): to be circumcised, to shave the pelvic region, to pull out the hair of the armpits, to cut short the moustaches, and to clip the nails.'
  36. ^ "Longest moustache". 4 March 2010. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  37. ^ Moustache on IMDb
  38. ^ Halsman, Philippe & Dalí, Salvador (1954). Dalí's Moustache. A Photographic Interview by Salvador Dalí and Philippe Halsman. New York: Simon & Schuster.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  39. ^ "Beard it like Abhinandan: The moustache trend that signifies heroism". MSN. IANS. 3 March 2019. Retrieved 11 March 2019.CS1 maint: others (link)
  40. ^ "MOUSTACHE MAKES THE MAN". The Telegraph.
  41. ^ Hall, Tarquin (10 July 2012). The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken. ISBN 9781451613186.
  42. ^ "Documentary Film Festival Archive – Watch Top documentaries online".
  43. ^ "Chittorgarh: Fortress of courage". timesofindia-economictimes.
  44. ^ "The Official Home Page of the United States Army | The United States Army". Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  45. ^ "Template:Date=July 2018
  46. ^ Long, Mark (15 August 2008). "Croats pay lip service to team unity" – via The Boston Globe.
  47. ^ "Hinchas chilenos lucen bigote a lo Toms en Londres".
  48. ^ Guioteca. #bigoteolimpico: Ponte el bigote de Tomás González y apóyalo!
  49. ^ BioBioChile – Londres 2012. "Las redes sociales apoyan a Tomás González usando su característico "bigote olímpico" – BioBioChile – Londres 2012". BioBioChile. Archived from the original on 15 January 2013.
  50. ^ Rangers, Sean HartnettSean Hartnett has covered the New York; NHL, the NHL for WFAN com since 2011 He has covered two Stanley Cup Finals Sean now contributes to XNSports’; Simpsons, general sports coverage He devotes far too much of his free time watching (5 December 2014). "Celebrated Scrapper George Parros Made The Most Of His NHL Life". XN Sports.
  51. ^ "The Top 10 Moustaches in Motorsport".

External links[edit]