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I read that beard can mean something like "confront someone".. When did a word that means a little facial hair turn into a hostile verb?

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I wonder if the use of "barb" (barbe = beard) to mean insult or provocation has a similar history? –  onomatomaniak Sep 29 '11 at 11:44
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up vote 4 down vote accepted

According to the online etymology dictionary, the sense of the word beard meaning to "confront boldly" is from Middle English phrases such as rennen in berd "oppose openly" (c.1200), reproven in the berd "to rebuke directly and personally" (c.1400), which is the same notion as the modern slang, to get in (someone's) face.

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Also consider Macbeth, V 3 "We might have met them dareful, beard to beard". Like the ME examples, this doesn't use "beard" as a verb, but shows the development of the verb. –  Colin Fine Sep 29 '11 at 11:38
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