Barber (from Lat. barba, beard), one whose occupation it is to shave or trim beards, a hairdresser. In former times the barber's craft was dignified with the title of a profession, being conjoined with the art of surgery. In France the barber-surgeons were separated from the perruquiers, and incorporated as a distinct body in the reign of Louis XIV. In England barbers first received incorporation from Edward IV. in 1461. By 32 Henry VIII. c. 42, they were united with the company of surgeons, it being enacted that the barbers should confine themselves to the minor operations of blood-letting and drawing teeth, while the surgeons were prohibited from "barbery or shaving." In 1745 barbers and surgeons were separated into distinct corporations by 18 George II. c. 15. The barber's shop was a favourite resort of idle persons; and in addition to its attraction as a focus of news, a lute, viol, or some such musical instrument, was always kept for the entertainment of waiting customers. The barber's sign consisted of a striped pole, from which was suspended a basin, symbols the use of which is still preserved.
The fillet round the pole indicated the ribbon for bandaging the arm in bleeding, and the basin the vessel to receive the blood.
See also Beard, and Annals of the Barber Surgeons of London (1890).