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From Middle English schepherde, from Old English scēaphyrde, a compound of scēap (sheep) and hierde (herdsman), equivalent to modern sheep +‎ herd (herder).



shepherd (plural shepherds, feminine shepherdess)

  1. A person who tends sheep, especially a grazing flock.
    • 1906, Stanley J[ohn] Weyman, chapter I, in Chippinge Borough[1], New York, N.Y.: McClure, Phillips & Co., OCLC 580270828:
      It was April 22, 1831, and a young man was walking down Whitehall in the direction of Parliament Street. He wore shepherd's plaid trousers and the swallow-tail coat of the day, with a figured muslin cravat wound about his wide-spread collar.
  2. (figuratively) Someone who watches over, looks after, or guides somebody.
  3. (figuratively) The pastor of a church; one who guides others in religion.


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shepherd (third-person singular simple present shepherds, present participle shepherding, simple past and past participle shepherded)

  1. To watch over; to guide
  2. (Australian rules football) For a player to obstruct an opponent from getting to the ball, either when a teammate has it or is going for it, or if the ball is about to bounce through the goal or out of bounds.