Five o’clock shadow

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The term five o’clock shadow first appeared in the United States in the 1930s. We will examine the meaning of the term five o’clock shadow, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

A five o’clock shadow is the amount of beard that grows during the course of a day, after a morning shave. A five o’clock shadow has not grown long enough to constitute a beard, but instead appears to be a shadow on a man’s face. Men’s beards grow at varying rates, and some men are more likely to grow a five o’clock shadow than others. The term five o’clock shadow was coined by the Gem Safety Razor company in the 1930s, to describe this phenomenon. Gem maintained that their razor blades gave a man a closer shave, eliminating the problem of five o’clock shadow. Five o’clock is the traditional time at which one leaves an office at the end of a work day.


Within this shaveless month, officers are finding a sense of camaraderie from admiring their fellow man’s early five o’clock shadow to predicting who is going to grow a patchy mess. (The Kankakee Daily Journal)

The study, by extra-marital dating site Gleeden, also quizzed 6,000 ladies about whether they had ever strayed for a guy with a five o’clock shadow. (The Daily Star)

His José Mourinho for instance used to be a bit, well, sketchy until the image was perfected of two eyes piercing like oncoming headlights over a five o’clock shadow of permanent misery. (The London Economic)

“Etymologically speaking,” Christine wrote in an email to me, “shracky is a term used by some 2 year olds to describe the displeasure of kissing their dads’ cheeks dense with a five o’clock shadow after a day of making and taking calls, wearing three-piece wool suits, dictating letters to secretaries, and drinking martinis at lunch.” (D Magazine)