What is beetle browed?

Example: There was a beetle browed man siting at the desk.

An expression meaning someone, usually a man, with bushy eyebrows and a frowning/worried appearance. The dad on The Wonder Years fits the description well.


Often, wizards are, either because of job-related stress or a spell gone wrong. Occasionally, both apply.

Not just with bushy eyebrows, but with overhanging brows. Neanderthals are often described as being beetle-browed.

And Highlanders…

Why “beetle” though?

The OED isn’t sure:

They lean toward beetle antennae.

I’m going with the eyes seeming to be partly hidden, so they named it after Beetle Bailey.

I admit there are some difficulties I need to work out for this proposal.

I’ve never heard this expression. It sounds like a corruption of “browbeaten”. As in, you are beetle browed if you’ve been browbeaten. Or maybe the other way around…

I seem to recall Edgar Rice Burroughs describing the elder, fuddy-duddy members of various ape clans as “beetle-browed.”

Beetle browed.

Beatle browed.

Caterpillar browed.

*"in French the expression sourcils de hanneton ‘**cockchafers’ eyebrows’ *"

Sound more like a occupation related injury.

Beatle browed

(But George’s picture gives a good representation of what ‘beetle browed’ means, too.)

I believe the term derives from the fact that the carapaces of some beetles overhang their eyes, producing the same visual effect as large, prominent eyebrow ridges in humans.

Cockchafer. (The second picture on the Wiki page gives a good example of beetle browed as applied to a beetle.)

And while we’re on the subject, I checked a couple of etymologies. The following is a composite of what I found:

Cockchafer, a genus of European scarab beetle, appears to have been named (in German) from cock (male poultry) + kepher (borrowed from Egyptian, meaning scarab beetle), the name meaning “scarab beetle with appurtenances resembling those of a cock (rooster),” presumably from its antennae and mouthparts, which are vaguely like those of a rooster.

It could well be connected to the insect. . Here’s the etymology from OED:

beetle, a.