cal·​low | \ ˈka-(ˌ)lō How to pronounce callow (audio) \

Definition of callow

: lacking adult sophistication : immature callow youth callow newcomers

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Other Words from callow

callowness \ ˈka-​lō-​nəs How to pronounce callowness (audio) , -​lə-​nəs \ noun

The Connection Between Callow and Baldness

You might not expect a relationship between the word callow and baldness, but that connection does in fact exist. Callow comes from calu, a word that meant "bald" in Middle English and Old English. By the 17th century, callow had come to mean "without feathers" and was applied to young birds not yet ready for flight. The term was also used for those who hadn't yet spread their wings in a figurative sense. Callow continues to mean "inexperienced" or "unsophisticated" today.

Examples of callow in a Sentence

a story about a callow youth who learns the value of hard work and self-reliance

Recent Examples on the Web

Last week’s result: Beat Miami, 59-10 This week: vs. Arizona Wow was the major reaction after the blowout in Miami—and the Ravens get another rookie coach, with a callow QB, at home in Week 2. The Mmqb Staff,, "NFL Power Rankings Poll Week 2: Vikings, Ravens, Titans Climb; Steelers, Browns Plunge," 10 Sep. 2019 The Navy lawyer, a callow young man more interested in softball games than the case, expects a plea bargain and a cover-up of what really happened., "Tidewater Players celebrates 40th year with ‘A Few Good Men’," 9 Sep. 2019 The success of an offense without starting QB questions and loaded at the skill positions hinges on the growth of a callow O-line. Edgar Thompson,, "2019 College Football Rankings: No. 8 Florida Gators surging entering Year 2 under Dan Mullen," 17 Aug. 2019 The Gunners were once famous for nurturing callow foreigners but lost patience with that approach five years ago. M.j., The Economist, "Man City’s and Liverpool’s rivals have copied their transfer strategy," 10 Aug. 2019 That version has its own callow charm, a pretty if earnest performance that only hints at the song’s depths. Greg Kot,, "50 years on, Sandy Denny’s influence remains with Mumford, Decemberists and others," 2 July 2019 The talented, callow Sixers gave away a second consecutive playoff game, 101-98, and, with it, a series. Marcus Hayes,, "Young Sixers team isn't ready to compete with disciplined Celtics | Marcus Hayes," 7 May 2018 The great political crisis of our times is not Donald Trump’s soggy nationalism or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s callow socialism, but the abdication of Congress, an institution that has substituted self-importance for self-respect. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, "Inching Back toward the Rule of Law," 23 June 2019 Those flaws could be seen as the reckless mistakes of callow disrupters. Christopher Mims, WSJ, "Why Free Is Too High a Price for Facebook and Google," 8 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'callow.' 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 callow

1580, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for callow

Middle English calu bald, from Old English; akin to Old High German kalo bald, Old Church Slavonic golŭ bare

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Dictionary Entries near callow


call out



call pay

call price

call rate

Statistics for callow

Last Updated

25 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for callow

The first known use of callow was in 1580

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More Definitions for callow



English Language Learners Definition of callow

often disapproving used to describe a young person who does not have much experience and does not know how to behave the way adults behave

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More from Merriam-Webster on callow

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with callow

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for callow

Spanish Central: Translation of callow

Nglish: Translation of callow for Spanish Speakers

Comments on callow

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to fake an opponent out of position

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