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 Already teed up by Cawthorn's callow election night victory tweet, the outrage from the left was swift, and much of it focused specifically on Cawthorn's evangelism. Bonnie Kristian, TheWeek, "American politics is fundamentally unserious about Christianity," 19 Nov. 2020 Headley paints a picture of reckless, callow men caught in a cycle of ecological self-destruction. Irina Dumitrescu, The New York Review of Books, "Dudes Without Heirs," 17 Nov. 2020 Strife and suffering are a refiner’s fire; the pieties of a soft prosperity are callow, empty, thin. Ross Douthat, National Review, "An American Pickle: Seth Rogen’s Traditionalist Comedy," 20 Aug. 2020 Unfortunately, Ella Turenne sounds young and callow and is not adept at altering her voice for different characters. Rochelle M. O’gorman, The Christian Science Monitor, "Four amazing audiobooks to listen to this April," 15 Apr. 2020 Pain and Glory > Uncut Gems Pedro Almodóvar’s gorgeous emotional autobiography showed wisdom while the Safdie Brothers’ ethnic carnival was callow. Armond White, National Review, "The 15th Annual Better-Than List," 3 Jan. 2020 All the characters, from the callow manipulators to the well-meaning dullards, are awash in cliché. Susanna Lee, The Conversation, "We’re living in the bizarre world that Flaubert envisioned," 10 Jan. 2020 The attrition left Edelman as both the go-to guy for Brady and the go-to guide for callow pass-catchers Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski, pressed into larger roles after Josh Gordon was felled by a knee injury., "FOXBOROUGH — Forget Next Man Up, Julian Edelman is the last one left, the last trusted Tom Brady target at wide receiver still standing.," 12 Oct. 2019 The opera is bookended by the death of Akhnaten’s father, Amenhotep III, and an epilogue in which a professor lectures a class of callow Egyptologists on the history of the ruins of Akhnaten’s once-great city. Mary Spencer, National Review, "Philip Glass’s Akhnaten Brings Ancient Egyptian Piety to Life," 14 Dec. 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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Time Traveler for callow

Time Traveler

The first known use of callow was in 1580

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Last Updated

25 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Callow.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for callow


How to pronounce callow (audio)

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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Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for callow

Nglish: Translation of callow for Spanish Speakers

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