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To Beard or Not to Beard: It's Not What You Think

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Everybody's favorite Elizabethan bard, William Shakespeare, had this line in Henry IV part 1, act IV, scene 1:

"Thou art the king of honor.
No man so potent breathes upon the ground
But I will beard him."

Translation: "There ain't nobody in the world bad enough that I won't get in his face when he talks smack about you."

That's right: "to beard" was a normal way of saying "to face" someone, but more than that. Here's the definition from an old glossary:

To BEARD, verb. To oppose face to face, in a daring and hostile manner; to threaten even to his beard.

The "even" part here doesn't mean "including" but equal to or level with, i.e., beard against beard, face to face. To beard someone is to look him in the eyes, almost close enough that your beards could touch. You're not hollering from a distance. There's no one standing between you trying to keep the peace. You're literally standing beard to beard.

When someone gets in your face like that, it's about as aggressive as you can be without taking a swing. Where have we seen this in the modern world? What do we call it today?

Why, it's the stare down of course. You know, that classic bit of psychological warfare waged before a fight? Boxers do it. MMA fighters do it. Wrestlers pretend to do it.

So here's a gallery of fighters bearding in the old-fashioned sense.

Floyd Patterson & Sonny Liston:

Muhammad Ali & Jo Frazier:

Joe Frazier & George Foreman:

Jose Aldo & Conor McGregor:

Cheick Kongo & Pat Barry

 Let's bring BEARDING back!