Burnside’s Sideburns: The Man Behind the Hair

Do you ever wonder how certain terms and sayings were coined? Most usually don’t make sense on their own, and you know they just HAVE to have some sort of historical context to them,  some wacky story to explain.

I always thought that the term ‘sideburn’ wasn’t as nonsensical as other terms. The ‘side’ part makes sense:  to signify the hair that lines the SIDE of someone’s face. The ‘burn’ part? Probably to do something with the fact that the line of hair looks like a burn scar or something? (I don’t know – just guessing here) Funny enough – neither is completely true nor false!

Meet the man behind the coining of the term ‘sideburn’: Ambrose Everette Burnside!

What are the chances that the man’s last name reworked actually kind of make sense to name facial hair lining the side of the face?!

Burnside was a general in the Union army, a railroad exec, industrialist, inventor, AND senator (whew!) in addition to the namesake behind the sideburn. Turns out the term originally WAS ‘burnside’ but was reworked at some point to ‘sideburn’ (convenient). And BOY, does this guy have sideburns!


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