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From Middle English talow, talgh, from Old English *tealh, *tealg, (compare Old English tælg, telg (dye)), from Proto-West Germanic *talg, from Proto-Germanic *talgaz (compare Dutch talg, German Talg), from Proto-Indo-European *del- (to flow) (compare Middle Irish delt (dew), Old Armenian տեղ (teł, heavy rain)).


  • IPA(key): /ˈtæləʊ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -æləʊ


tallow (countable and uncountable, plural tallows)

  1. A hard animal fat obtained from suet, etc.; used in cooking as well as to make candles, soap and lubricants.
    • 1886, Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, translated by H.L. Brækstad, Folk and Fairy Tales, page 240:
      "I have got a very fine shirt, which I am going to use for my wedding shirt; but there are three tallow stains on it which I want washed out[.]"
    • 1929, M. Barnard Eldershaw, A House Is Built, chapter VIII, section ii:
      Nor were the wool prospects much better. The pastoral industry, which had weathered the severe depression of the early forties by recourse to boiling down the sheep for their tallow, and was now firmly re-established as the staple industry of the colony, was threatened once more with eclipse.

Derived terms[edit]



tallow (third-person singular simple present tallows, present participle tallowing, simple past and past participle tallowed)

  1. To grease or smear with tallow.
  2. To cause to have a large quantity of tallow; to fatten.
    to tallow sheep