bighorn sheep


big·​horn sheep ˈbig-ˌhȯrn- How to pronounce bighorn sheep (audio)
variants or less commonly bighorn
plural bighorn sheep also bighorns or bighorn
: 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 Visiting reminded me of my trip to Anza Borrego Desert State Park in March to see desert wildflowers and bighorn sheep. Raul Roa, Los Angeles Times, 15 May 2024 The White Tank Mountains are home to a variety of wildlife, including mule deer, mountain lions, bobcats, javelinas, and, most recently, some bighorn sheep that have returned to the area. Hayleigh Evans, The Arizona Republic, 13 May 2024 Concerned hunters and anglers fear that such a project would harm the Bitterroot’s world-class trout fishery and the area’s intact habitat for elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, and other iconic Western game species. Travis Hall, Field & Stream, 8 May 2024 The property listing boasted of trophy-size elk, a resident herd of bighorn sheep and ownership of 19 mountain peaks — including 14,053-foot Culebra Peak. Harrison, like his predecessor, continued pressing the case over land grant access. Elise Schmelzer, The Denver Post, 5 May 2024 Gunnison features wildlife from mule deer, elk and golden eagles to rocky mountain bighorn sheep and mountain lions. Dina Kaur, The Arizona Republic, 3 May 2024 All the iconic Rocky Mountains animals are present in the park — moose, elk, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, wolves, cougars, and grizzly bears. Joe Yogerst, Forbes, 20 Feb. 2024 Officials worried that bighorn sheep — one of the rarest hunting tags in Idaho — could be targeted using collar data. Nicole Blanchard, Idaho Statesman, 1 Feb. 2024 Throughout the year, the agency determines deer, javelina, antelope and bighorn sheep populations to quantify the pool for hunters. Hayleigh Evans, The Arizona Republic, 20 Jan. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bighorn sheep.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1817, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of bighorn sheep was in 1817

Dictionary Entries Near bighorn sheep

Cite this Entry

“Bighorn sheep.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

bighorn sheep

big·​horn sheep ˈbig-ˌhȯrn- How to pronounce bighorn sheep (audio)
: a usually grayish brown wild sheep of mountainous western North America

called also bighorn, Rocky Mountain sheep

More from Merriam-Webster on bighorn sheep

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