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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English sowe, from Old English sugu, from Proto-Germanic *sugō (compare West Frisian sûch, Dutch zeug, Low German Söög, German Sau, Swedish sugga, Norwegian sugge), from Proto-Indo-European *suh₂kéh₂ (compare Welsh hwch (pig), Sanskrit सूकर (sūkará, swine, boar)), from *suH- ‘pig’ (compare German Sau, Latin sūs, Tocharian B suwo, Ancient Greek ὗς (hûs), Albanian thi, Avestan 𐬵𐬏 (, boar). See also swine.

Alternative forms[edit]


  • IPA(key): /saʊ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aʊ
  • Homophone: sough


A sow with her young.

sow (plural sows or swine)

  1. A female pig.
  2. A female bear.
    • 1995, Dana Stabenow, Play with Fire, →ISBN, page 11:
      Lucky he wasn't a sow. They've usually just dropped a cub this time of year. A sow would have been cranky as hell.
  3. A channel that conducts molten metal to molds.
  4. A mass of metal solidified in a mold.
    • 1957, H.R. Schubert, History of the British Iron and Steel Industry, p. 160:
      In England, it was generally termed a 'sow', if the weight was above 10 cwts., if below, it was termed a 'pig' from which the present term 'pig iron' is derived.
  5. (derogatory, slang) A contemptible, often fat woman.
  6. A sowbug.
  7. (military) A kind of covered shed, formerly used by besiegers in filling up and passing the ditch of a besieged place, sapping and mining the wall, etc.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Craig to this entry?)
Usage notes[edit]

The plural form swine is now obsolete in this sense.

  • (mass of metal solidified in a mold): ingot
  • (contemptible woman): bitch, cow
Derived terms[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

See also[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English sowen, from Old English sāwan, from Proto-Germanic *sēaną, from Proto-Indo-European *seh₁-. Compare Dutch zaaien, German säen, Danish .



sow (third-person singular simple present sows, present participle sowing, simple past sowed, past participle sown or sowed)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To scatter, disperse, or plant (seeds).
    When I had sown the field, the day's work was over.
    As you sow, so shall you reap.
  2. (figuratively) To spread abroad; to propagate.
    • Addison
      And sow dissension in the hearts of brothers.
  3. (figuratively) To scatter over; to besprinkle.
    • Sir M. Hale
      The intellectual faculty is a goodly field, [] and it is the worst husbandry in the world to sow it with trifles.
    • Milton
      [He] sowed with stars the heaven.
Derived terms[edit]


Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of sowe