History / Inspiration
A beard is the collection of hair that grows on the chin, cheeks and neck, but not the upper lip, of human beings. Usually, only pubescent or adult males are able to grow beards. However, women with hirsutism may develop a beard. When differentiating between upper and lower facial hair, a beard specifically refers to the facial hair on the lower part of a man's chin (excluding the moustache, which refers to hair above the upper lip and around it).
The Greek word for beard: "pogon" is the root of a number of technical and humorous words relating to beards. For example the study of beards is called "pogonology", giving rise to "pogonologist" and similar words. Those terms are fairly respectable because the study is non-trivial (in fact challenging) and apart from constituting a specialism in the field of dermatology, research pogonologists commonly are employed by major producers of cosmetic products and equipment.
Perhaps less seriously, other words relating to beards have been coined. For example some dictionaries now list "pogonotomy" (literally "beard cutting") as a term for shaving. Its converse is "pogonotrophy" for beard growing. Such words commonly are used to convey humorous pretentiousness. On the other hand, the "pogon" root and derivatives such as "pog-" are fairly common in biological nomenclature. For instance "Pogonomyrmex" is the genus of "bearded ants". The name of "Pogonymus pogognathus", a small Hawaiian fish, includes the root twice. "Dipogon lignosus" is a trailing leguminous plant. The name means something like "two-bearded, woody".
In the course of history, men with facial hair have been ascribed various attributes such as wisdom and knowledge, sexual virility, masculinity, or high social status; and, conversely, filthiness, crudeness, or an eccentric disposition.