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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English herde, heerde, heorde, from Old English hierd, heord ‎(herd, flock; keeping, care, custody), from Proto-Germanic *herdō ‎(herd), from Proto-Indo-European *kerdʰ- ‎(file, row, herd). Cognate with German Herde, Swedish hjord. Non-Germanic cognates include Albanian herdhe ‘nest’.


herd ‎(plural herds)

  1. A number of domestic animals assembled together under the watch or ownership of a keeper. [from 11th c.]
  2. Any collection of animals gathered or travelling in a company. [from 13th c.]
    • 2007, J. Michael Fay, Ivory Wars: Last Stand in Zakouma, National Geographic (March 2007), 47,
      Zakouma is the last place on Earth where you can see more than a thousand elephants on the move in a single, compact herd.
  3. A crowd, a mass of people; now usually pejorative: a rabble. [from 15th c.]
    • Dryden
      But far more numerous was the herd of such / Who think too little and who talk too much.
    • Coleridge
      You can never interest the common herd in the abstract question.


herd ‎(third-person singular simple present herds, present participle herding, simple past and past participle herded)

  1. (intransitive) To unite or associate in a herd; to feed or run together, or in company.
    Sheep herd on many hills.
  2. (intransitive) To associate; to ally one's self with, or place one's self among, a group or company.
    (Can we date this quote?) I’ll herd among his friends, and seem One of the number. Addison.

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English herde, from Old English hirde, hierde, from Proto-Germanic *hirdijaz. Cognate with German Hirte, Swedish herde, Danish hyrde.


herd ‎(plural herds)

  1. (now rare) Someone who keeps a group of domestic animals; a herdsman.
    • 2000, Alasdair Grey, The Book of Prefaces, Bloomsbury 2002, page 38:
      Any talent which gives a good new thing to others is a miracle, but commentators have thought it extra miraculous that England's first known poet was an illiterate herd.
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]
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herd ‎(third-person singular simple present herds, present participle herding, simple past and past participle herded)

  1. (intransitive, Scotland) To act as a herdsman or a shepherd.
  2. (transitive) To form or put into a herd.
    I heard the herd of cattle being herded home from a long way away.

See also[edit]

Old High German[edit]


From West Germanic *hertha (Proto-Germanic *herþaz), whence also Old Saxon herth, Old Frisian herth, hirth, Old English heorþ. Ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *ker- ‎(heat;fire).


herd m

  1. hearth