plural noun

cat·​tle ˈka-tᵊl How to pronounce cattle (audio)
: domesticated quadrupeds held as property or raised for use
specifically : bovine animals on a farm or ranch
: human beings especially en masse

Examples of cattle in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web What stops a cattle operation displaced from a plot of land diverted to underpin carbon credits from sowing destruction somewhere else that isn’t managed or protected? WIRED, 14 Sep. 2023 By the 1600s, more and more settlers arrived and began herding cattle and horses. Anna Mahan, Country Living, 10 Sep. 2023 The slick mutation has been identified in at least six different cattle breeds around the world, including in Carora cows in Venezuela and Senepol cows on the Caribbean island of Saint Croix. Katherine Rapin, Discover Magazine, 7 Sep. 2023 Fully 80 percent of the water drawn from the Colorado goes to irrigating some 5.5 million acres, most of which is used to grow alfalfa and grass to feed cattle, and not only in the United States. Wade Davis, Rolling Stone, 3 Sep. 2023 Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from raising livestock—especially cattle, which are the leading agricultural source of planet-warming emissions worldwide—is seen as one of the biggest opportunities for addressing climate change. Margaret Osborne, Smithsonian Magazine, 29 Aug. 2023 Skye, named after her stunning blue eyes, is a mix of Siberian husky, miniature Schnauzer, Labrador retriever, and Australian cattle dog. Kelli Bender, Peoplemag, 25 Aug. 2023 The kids can try cattle roping and ride a pony, a mechanical bull or the Li’l Grand train. Norma Cavazos, Dallas News, 31 Aug. 2023 The gene occurs naturally in at least six different cattle breeds across the world, including Senepol cows in Saint Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Margaret Osborne, Smithsonian Magazine, 29 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'cattle.' 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 catel, cadel "property (whether real or personal), goods, treasure, livestock, (in plural cateles) possessions," borrowed from Anglo-French katil "property, goods, wealth," borrowed from medieval French (dialects of Picardy and French Flanders) catel, going back to Medieval Latin capitāle "movable property, riches," (in Anglo-Saxon law texts) "head of cattle," noun derivative from neuter of capitālis "of the head, chief, principal" — more at capital entry 1

Note: Note that the spelling cattle is uncommon before the eighteenth century. Anglo-French katil is a variant of chatel—see chattel, which is a doublet of this word. Though the variant with [k] is rare in Anglo-French, catel is frequent and used almost interchangeably with chatel in Middle English. The sense "livestock," however, is only attached to catel, to judge from citations in the Middle English Dictionary. — Regarding the meaning "movable property, riches" of capitālis see the note at capital entry 2.

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of cattle was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near cattle

Cite this Entry

“Cattle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


cat·​tle ˈkat-ᵊl How to pronounce cattle (audio)
plural cattle
: domestic four-footed animals held as property or raised for use
especially : bovine animals (as cows, bulls, or steers) kept on a farm or ranch
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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