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See also: HORSE, Horse, H.O.R.S.E., and H-O-R-S-E



Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English horse, hors, from Old English hors (horse), metathesis from Proto-Germanic *hrussą (horse), from Proto-Indo-European *ḱr̥sos (horse), from Proto-Indo-European *ḱers- (to run). Doublet of course, courier, current.

A common horse


horse (plural horses)

  1. Any of several animals related to Equus ferus caballus.
    1. A hoofed mammal, of the genus Equus, often used throughout history for riding and draft work.
      A cowboy's greatest friend is his horse.
      • 1892, Walter Besant, “Prologue: Who is Edmund Gray?”, in The Ivory Gate: A Novel, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers, [], OCLC 16832619, page 16:
        Athelstan Arundel walked home [], foaming and raging. [] He walked the whole way, walking through crowds, and under the noses of dray-horses, carriage-horses, and cart-horses, without taking the least notice of them.
      • 1922, Ben Travers, chapter 5, in A Cuckoo in the Nest:
        The departure was not unduly prolonged. [] Within the door Mrs. Spoker hastily imparted to Mrs. Love a few final sentiments on the subject of Divine Intention in the disposition of buckets; farewells and last commiserations; a deep, guttural instigation to the horse; and the wheels of the waggonette crunched heavily away into obscurity.
    2. (zoology) Any current or extinct animal of the family Equidae, including the zebra or the ass.
      These bone features, distinctive in the zebra, are actually present in all horses.
    3. (military, sometimes uncountable) Cavalry soldiers (sometimes capitalized when referring to an official category).
      We should place two units of horse and one of foot on this side of the field.
      All the King's horses and all the King's men, couldn't put Humpty together again.
    4. (chess, informal) The chess piece representing a knight, depicted as a horse.
      Now just remind me how the horse moves again?
    5. (slang) A large person.
      Every linebacker they have is a real horse.
    6. (historical) A timber frame shaped like a horse, which soldiers were made to ride for punishment.
  2. Equipment with legs.
    1. In gymnastics, a piece of equipment with a body on two or four legs, approximately four feet high, sometimes (pommel horse) with two handles on top .
      She's scored very highly with the parallel bars; let's see how she does with the horse.
    2. A frame with legs, used to support something.
      a clothes horse; a sawhorse
  3. (nautical) Type of equipment.
    1. A rope stretching along a yard, upon which men stand when reefing or furling the sails; footrope.
    2. A breastband for a leadsman.
    3. An iron bar for a sheet traveller to slide upon.
    4. A jackstay.
      (Can we find and add a quotation of W. C. Russell to this entry?)
      (Can we find and add a quotation of Totten to this entry?)
  4. (mining) A mass of earthy matter, or rock of the same character as the wall rock, occurring in the course of a vein, as of coal or ore; hence, to take horse (said of a vein) is to divide into branches for a distance.
  5. (slang) The sedative, antidepressant, and anxiolytic drug morphine, chiefly when used illicitly.
    • 1962, Cape Fear, 00:15:20
      Check that shirt. I got a couple of jolts of horse stashed under the collar
  6. (US) An informal variant of basketball in which players match shots made by their opponent(s), each miss adding a letter to the word "horse", with 5 misses spelling the whole word and eliminating a player, until only the winner is left. Also HORSE, H-O-R-S-E or H.O.R.S.E. (see Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg H-O-R-S-E on Wikipedia.Wikipedia ).
  7. (dated, slang, among students) A translation or other illegitimate aid in study or examination.
  8. (dated, slang, among students) horseplay; tomfoolery
Usage notes[edit]

The noun can be used attributively in compounds and phrases to add the sense of large and/or coarse.

Derived terms[edit]
Terms derived from horse (noun)
See also[edit]
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horse (third-person singular simple present horses, present participle horsing, simple past and past participle horsed)

  1. (intransitive) To frolic, to act mischievously. (Usually followed by "around".)
    • (Can we date this quote?) Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (script)
      "Genghis Khan! Abe Lincoln! That’s funny until someone gets hurt."
      But Genghis Khan and Lincoln keep horsing around.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Ted Lawson, Thirty Seconds over Tokyo:
      I told him that if I passed out before we got to a hospital I wanted him to see to it that no quack horsed around with my leg.
  2. (transitive) To provide with a horse.
    • Shakespeare
      being better horsed, outrode me
  3. (obsolete) To get on horseback.
  4. To sit astride of; to bestride.
  5. (of a male horse) To copulate with (a mare).
  6. To take or carry on the back.
    • S. Butler
      the keeper, horsing a deer
  7. To place on the back of another person, or on a wooden horse, etc., to be flogged; to subject to such punishment.
    • 1963, Charles Harold Nichols, Many Thousand Gone
      So they brought him out and horsed him upon the back of Planter George, and whipped him until he fell quivering in the dust.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]



horse (uncountable)

  1. (uncountable, slang) Heroin (drug).
    Alright, mate, got any horse?
Further reading[edit]


Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of hors



horse (plural horse)

  1. horse