See also: Plough


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Alternative formsEdit


From Middle English plouh, plow, plugh(e), plough(e), plouw, from Old English plōh (hide of land, ploughland) and Old Norse plógr (plough (the implement)), both from Proto-Germanic *plōgaz, *plōguz (plough). Cognate with Scots pleuch, plou, West Frisian ploech, North Frisian plog, Dutch ploeg, Low German Ploog, German Pflug, Danish plov, Swedish and Norwegian plog, Icelandic plógur. Replaced Old English sulh (plough, furrow); see sullow.


  • IPA(key): /plaʊ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aʊ


plough (plural ploughs)

  1. A device pulled through the ground in order to break it open into furrows for planting.
    The horse-drawn plough had a tremendous impact on agriculture.
  2. The use of a plough; tillage.
    • 1919, Commonwealth Shipping Committee, Report (volume 8, page 47)
      If you get it early ploughed and it lies all winter possibly, you find it an advantage to give it a second plough; but it does not invariably follow that we plough twice for our green crop.
  3. Alternative form of Plough (Synonym of Ursa Major)
    • 2004, Amazing Physics Quiz, →ISBN, page 32:
      Rising in the north-east fairly high in the sky, Arcturus may be found by following round the curve of the plough.
    • 2005, Clive L. N. Ruggles, Ancient Astronomy: An Encyclopedia of Cosmologies and Myth, →ISBN:
      To many generations of rice farmers in rural Java, Indonesia, it was not the stars of Ursa Major that formed the plough, but the stars of Orion.
    • 2007, Mike Lynch, Florida Starwatch, →ISBN, page 52:
      Across the Atlantic, what we call the Big Dipper has been called many other names. In England, this grouping of stars is seen as the plough.
    • 2010, John Turner, Exploring the Other Island: A Seasonal Guide to Nature on Long Island, →ISBN:
      Consider the Big Dipper, or as it is also known, the plough or the wagon.
  4. Alternative form of ploughland, an alternative name for a carucate or hide.
    • (Can we date this quote by Tale of Gamelyn and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?)
      Johan, mine eldest son, shall have plowes five.
  5. A joiner's plane for making grooves.
  6. A bookbinder's implement for trimming or shaving off the edges of books.

Usage notesEdit

The spelling plow is usual in the United States, but the spelling plough may be found in literary or historical contexts there.




Derived termsEdit



plough (third-person singular simple present ploughs, present participle ploughing, simple past and past participle ploughed)

  1. (transitive) To use a plough on to prepare for planting.
    I've still got to plough that field.
  2. (intransitive) To use a plough.
    Some days I have to plough from sunrise to sunset.
  3. (transitive, vulgar) To have sex with, penetrate.
  4. To move with force.
    Trucks plowed through the water to ferry flood victims to safety.
    • 2011 January 18, “Wolverhampton 5 - 0 Doncaster”, in BBC[1]:
      Wolves continued to plough forward as young Belgian midfielder Mujangi Bia and Ronald Zubar both hit shots wide from good positions.
  5. To furrow; to make furrows, grooves, or ridges in.
  6. (nautical) To run through, as in sailing.
  7. (bookbinding) To trim, or shave off the edges of, as a book or paper, with a plough.
  8. (joinery) To cut a groove in, as in a plank, or the edge of a board; especially, a rectangular groove to receive the end of a shelf or tread, the edge of a panel, a tongue, etc.
  9. (Britain, college slang, transitive) To fail (a student).
    • 1863, Henry Kingsley, Austin Elliot, page 123:
      The good Professor scolded, predicted that they would all be either gulfed or ploughed.
    • 1863, Charles Reade, Hard Cash:
      You see, Miss Dodd, an university examination consists of several items: neglect but one, and Crichton himself would be ploughed; because brilliancy in your other papers is not allowed to count; that is how the most distinguished man of our day got ploughed for Smalls.
    • 1895, Pocock, Roger, The Rules of the Game:
      I knew one of that lot at Corpus; in fact, we were crammed by the same tutor for "smalls," and both got ploughed.


Derived termsEdit


See alsoEdit