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.

Example Sentences

a story about a callow youth who learns the value of hard work and self-reliance
Recent Examples on the Web 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 Even with a callow receiving corps that has earned his wrath at times, A-Rod is a problem. Christopher L. Gasper,, 29 Sep. 2022 But mostly, this dark-cornered, sinister place, which is being minded by callow young caretaker Rakib (Kevin Ardilova), feels eerily still and expectant, like a spiderweb waiting for the return of its spider. Jessica Kiang, Variety, 29 Sep. 2022 During the first half of the movie, Butler seems at times too callow as the Presley of the Fifties. David Browne, Rolling Stone, 16 Aug. 2022 The final decade and a half of Lubitsch’s career unfolded under the cloud of the dreaded Production Code, with its prudish horror of sexuality and its callow fear of politics. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 8 Aug. 2022 His callow-millennial act — and the navel-gazing vagaries of modern content culture — make fertile ground for satire, and many of the jokes here do find their soft targets. Leah Greenblatt,, 29 July 2022 To impress her office crush Colin (Dylan O’Brien), a callow pothead-turned-globe-trotting influencer with a grotty Pete Davidson-esque charisma, Danni concocts a phony invitation to a writers retreat in Paris. Amy Nicholson, Variety, 20 July 2022 See More

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.

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 25 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


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

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