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Etymology 1Edit

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 formsEdit


  • 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 notesEdit

The plural form swine is now obsolete in this sense.

  • (mass of metal solidified in a mold): ingot
  • (contemptible woman): bitch, cow
Derived termsEdit
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 alsoEdit

Etymology 2Edit

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) 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 termsEdit


Middle EnglishEdit



  1. Alternative form of sowe