bighorn sheep

big·​horn sheep | \ ˈbig-ˌhȯrn- How to pronounce bighorn sheep (audio) \
variants: or less commonly
plural bighorn sheep also bighorns or bighorn

Definition of bighorn sheep

: a usually grayish-brown wild sheep (Ovis canadensis) of mountainous and desert regions of western North America

Note: The bighorn sheep has a white patch on the rump and, in the males, massive horns that curve up and back over the ears and then up and forward toward the cheeks.

Illustration of bighorn sheep

Illustration of bighorn sheep

Examples of bighorn sheep in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and marmots inhabit the rocky slopes around Logan Pass, which is also a hub for several great hikes, including the family-friendly Animal Super Heroes Trail and the 1.5-mile (2.4-km) nature trail to Hidden Lake. National Geographic, "A guide to Glacier National Park," 17 Apr. 2019 Visit 2,160-acre Wild Horse Island, a state park on the lake’s largest island, accessible only via boat, to spot wild horses and Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. Megan Michelson, Outside Online, "8 Places to Cool Off This Summer," 9 July 2019 From its founding in 1950 until its sale in 2011, the lodge catered to hunters, who didn't want or need amenities beyond a simple place to stay in this corner of the Wallowas, which is known for trophy-size elk and bighorn sheep. Dina Mishev, Dallas News, "This lodge in the Oregon wilderness is anything but wild," 8 July 2019 California is a one-party state in which elected Republicans may soon need the kind of protection afforded to the bighorn sheep. The Economist, "Texafornia dreaming," 20 June 2019 Bridge and tunnel crowd: Moose, bighorn sheep, elk, and other creatures big and small roam the Bow Valley along the busy Trans Canada Highway that cuts through Banff National Park. Susan O'keefe, National Geographic, "EXPLORE THE WORLD WITH NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC," 8 Apr. 2019 Just drive through the gate and into 160 acres of pine forest populated by bears, wolves, bison, bighorn sheep and more, all roaming freely — although bears and wolves are partitioned off from their snack-like neighbors. Roger Naylor, azcentral, "Arizona road trip: Williams has Route 66, Bearizona and cool summer fun," 15 June 2018 This team's primary research subject is the bighorn sheep, which was wiped out in many locations due to hunting and diseases transmitted by domestic sheep. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Transplanted mammals take a century to learn to “surf the green wave”," 7 Sep. 2018 On a recent visit, I was startled by a family of bighorn sheep lounging on a picnic ramada at the rest area. Mare Czinar, azcentral, "Arizona hike: Wildlife abounds on the South Fork Trail," 19 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bighorn sheep.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of bighorn sheep

1817, in the meaning defined above

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Bighorn Mountains

bighorn sheep

big house


big idea

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Last Updated

9 Aug 2019

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The first known use of bighorn sheep was in 1817

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bighorn sheep


English Language Learners Definition of bighorn sheep

: a kind of wild sheep with long curved horns that lives in the mountains of western North America

More from Merriam-Webster on bighorn sheep

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with bighorn sheep Encyclopedia article about bighorn sheep

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