cal·​low ˈka-(ˌ)lō How to pronounce callow (audio)
: lacking adult sophistication : immature
callow youth
callow newcomers
ˈka-lō-nəs How to pronounce callow (audio)

Did you know?

The Connection Between Callow and Baldness

You might not expect a relationship between the word callow and baldness, but 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.

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 For me, DiCaprio, now pushing 50, nevertheless almost always seems too callow, too green, for the roles he’s called upon to play, especially in his many Scorsese films. Peter Rainer, The Christian Science Monitor, 19 Oct. 2023 He was hardly callow. Washington Post, 18 Sep. 2020 These comments expressed the callow moral vanity at the core of EA. Timothy Noah, The New Republic, 16 Nov. 2022 No longer a brash, callow youth, Mitchell, with his still-eager grin, shows the furrows of age and experience — and the moral sincerity of Cruise’s memorable late performances, especially Minority Report and The War of the Worlds. Armond White, National Review, 27 May 2022 See all Example Sentences for callow 

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

1580, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of callow was in 1580


Dictionary Entries Near callow

Cite this Entry

“Callow.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


cal·​low ˈkal-ō How to pronounce callow (audio)
: lacking adult experience : immature
callow youth
callowness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on callow

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!