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A barber generally keeps on snipping the scissors in between the actual cuts. There is a particular phrase for this behavior. I have come across this phrase before, but can't recollect it now. The phrase was a generic term for such involuntary acts and the barber's one was a good example for it. The closest I can some up with now is "fidgeting", but I don't think that was the word. Two close phrases I came across today are "muscle memory" and "automaticity"

  • I always thought they were clearing their scissors from stray hairs. They don't continually snip all the while they have scissors in their hands, so I wouldn't have thought it was muscle memory. – marcellothearcane Jul 12 at 17:42
  • Would this be similar to how people hammering at an anvil often hit the target, then bounce off the anvil, then hit the target again? – Davo Jul 12 at 17:49
  • @Davo There seems to be a real reason for doing that, not just a fidget. – Cascabel Jul 12 at 17:51
  • Blacksmiths do this to keep rhythm. If they need to think about where to hit it next, they tap the anvil until they are ready – Richard Haven 2 days ago
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Tics, perhaps? (This is often part of 'nervous tics', though not all tics are nervous ones.)

It sounds like a complex motor tic.

(Edited to clarify "nervous" and link to definition.)

  • Is that word actually used to describe this? Almost all barbers seem to do this, and it seems unlikely that they're all nervous about their work. – David Richerby Dec 3 '17 at 23:04
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    @DavidRicherby: Although tic doesn't necessarily indicate nervousness. Not that we'd know this from the answer, since there's no actual definition or reference. – Zack Jul 12 at 17:19

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