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

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 The Pieper twins, callow fellows born of German immigrant parents, worked together for Burlington Railroad and enlisted together in the Navy. Fox News, "Twin brothers to be reunited 74 years after dying together on D-Day," 19 June 2018 But Stewart Evan Smith is callow, almost comic, as Chevalier Danceny, Cécile’s besotted music teacher. Jeffrey Gantz,, "Sex as a weapon in Nora’s all-male ‘Liaisons’," 5 June 2018 Its first act, when the characters are youthful and callow, is delightfully comic. Julia M. Klein,, "Act II Playhouse's 'Camelot' a scaled-down yet powerful portrayal," 27 May 2018 Jackson had callow wideouts and an overwhelmed rookie QB. Andy Benoit,, "The Mistake the Browns Are Making With Baker Mayfield," 11 May 2018 Some read as callow and lazy, while others as wholly compelling. Jason Parham, WIRED, "Dear White People, The Rachel Divide, and the Hard Questions of Identity," 4 May 2018 In Chappaquiddick, the foundation of the Kennedy dynasty is not public service, but Joe’s ruthless ambition, which has made Ted callow, cowardly, and disposed to drink. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "The Eternal Return of the Kennedys," 30 Apr. 2018 And although WhatsApp jokes about Congress president Rahul Gandhi have subsided of late, many middle-class Indians continue to view the 47-year-old Mr. Gandhi as too callow for high office. Sadanand Dhume, WSJ, "Narendra Modi Isn’t Quite a Shoo-In for Re-Election in 2019," 22 Mar. 2018

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

19 Jun 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

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behavior toward others

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