Bristle = stubble

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  • perpend

    Banned
    American English
    There can be a subtle difference, depending on context. I assume this is about a person?
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    If we're talking about the hair that becomes a beard or a moustache, I could not say, "There was several days' bristle on his face". I could say, "There was several days' stubble on his face."
     

    Sparky Malarky

    Moderator
    English - US
    Bristle and stubble are usually interchangeable. However, I think stubble implies something that is not supposed to be there.

    He had stubble on his face. Because he had not shaved in two days.
    He had a short bristle on his head. Because he had used clippers to cut his hair very short.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    :confused:
    :confused:
    :confused:
    :confused:

    There's a rather large, glaring, and totally unsubtle difference for me, which is that bristle is a countable noun and stubble isn't:

    Stubble is made up of thousands of tiny bristles.
    He had a short bristle on his head. Because he had used clippers to cut his hair very short.
    I wouldn't dream of saying this. (His head was covered with short stubble/bristles.)
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Bristle and stubble are usually interchangeable. However, I think stubble implies something that is not supposed to be there.
    Well, not currently.

    See this NY Times article.

    For some reason, it now is considered in some corners of the men's fashion world that carrying a two-day growth of stubble in the face is quite macho and attractive.

    One does not have to watch much American television to verify this ....

    Moreover, the electric shaver/beard trimmer folks are now selling devices designed to maintain that growth.

    See HERE.

    No, we would not call that a bristle.
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    There are 72 examples of the word bristle in the British National Corpus (BNC). As far as I could see, in none of them is the word "bristle" synonymous with "stubble".

    In the BNC, the word "bristle" is overwhelmingly used in these senses:
    1. The hairs of various animals (such as swine, whose bristle is used to make articles such as brushes).
    2. As a verb, referring to animals whose hair stands erect to express alarm. By extension it can refer to various human emotional states likened to such animals' alarm, or to items that are abundant and prominent like such hair: The shelves bristle with Sardinian champagne, Ferrero Rocher chocolates, boxes of luxury Huntley and Palmer biscuits.
     
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    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Whether a head or a face, I don't see a big difference between "bristle" and "stubble".
    Stubble is the result of something being cut and growing back (including vegetation). Stubble is bristly in texture and can therefore be referred to as bristle. Some bristle, however, grows (or just is) bristly without being cut. The bristles on a boar are not stubble. The bristles of a paint or hair brush are not stubble.
     
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