plural noun
cat·​tle | \ ˈka-tᵊl How to pronounce cattle (audio) \

Definition of cattle

1 : domesticated quadrupeds held as property or raised for use specifically : bovine animals on a farm or ranch
2 : human beings especially en masse

Examples of cattle in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web These vast ranches are where the world-famous gauchos rear cattle for the beef which is one of Argentina's biggest exports. Richard Quest And Joe Minihane, CNN, 27 Apr. 2022 Omi is the oldest Wagyu brand in Japan and comes from the Japanese black cattle raised in Shiga Prefecture. Melinda Sheckells, The Hollywood Reporter, 26 Apr. 2022 Two of the cattle had to be put down due to injuries. Sarah Rumpf, Fox News, 21 Apr. 2022 The study also found that more than a quarter of the cattle sampled from the Global Animal Partnership welfare certification program, used by Whole Foods and hundreds of other retailers and meat purchasers, had at least one positive test. Chloe Sorvino, Forbes, 12 Apr. 2022 In a fall evaluation on grazing in the forest, one USFWS biologist plainly stated how cattle affect riparian areas. Lindsey Botts, The Arizona Republic, 13 Apr. 2022 Operating the program on ICE’s behalf is BI Inc, a one-time cattle-monitoring business and current subsidiary of the private prison company the GEO Group. Lautaro Grinspan, ajc, 8 Apr. 2022 Today the canyon’s park, formerly cattle-grazing grounds, retains freshwater marsh and grassland habitats. Mary Forgione, Los Angeles Times, 7 Apr. 2022 Most cattle in the study tested negative for antibiotics. Washington Post, 7 Apr. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cattle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of cattle

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cattle

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.

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

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Last Updated

13 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Cattle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for cattle


cat·​tle | \ ˈka-tᵊl How to pronounce cattle (audio) \
plural cattle

Kids Definition of cattle

: domestic animals with four feet and especially cows, bulls, and calves


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