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From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Vibrissa \Vi*bris"sa\, n.; pl. Vibrissae. [L. vibrissae, pl., the hairs in the nostrils of man, fr. vibrare to vibrate; -- so called because touching them tickles a person, and causes him to shake his head.] 1. (Anat.) One of the specialized or tactile hairs which grow about the nostrils, or on other parts of the face, in many animals, as the so-called whiskers of the cat, and the hairs of the nostrils of man. [1913 Webster] 2. (Zool.) The bristlelike feathers near the mouth of many birds. [1913 Webster]