\ˈhərd \

Definition of herd 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a typically large group of animals of one kind kept together under human control a herd of cattle

b : a congregation of gregarious wild animals herds of antelopes

2a(1) : a group of people usually having a common bond a herd of tourists

(2) : a large assemblage of like things herds of cars

b : the undistinguished masses : crowd isolate the individual prophets from the herd— Norman Cousins


herded; herding; herds

Definition of herd (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to gather, lead, or drive as if in a herd (see herd entry 1 sense 1a) herded the children into the car

b : to keep or move (animals) together dogs that are trained to herd sheep

2 : to place in a group herd us with their kindred fools— Jonathan Swift

intransitive verb

1 : to assemble or move in a herd (see herd entry 1) herding onto the subway

2 : to place oneself in a group : associate it is desirable that young noblemen should herd— Sir Walter Scott

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Other Words from herd


herdlike \ˈhərd-​ˌlīk \ adjective

Synonyms for herd

Synonyms: Noun

drove, flock

Synonyms: Verb

drive, punch, run

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Examples of herd in a Sentence


The herd grazed peacefully in the pasture. A herd of shoppers waited anxiously for the store to open.


The horses were herded into the corral. We left the hotel and were herded onto a bus. They herded the students into the auditorium. The commuters herded onto the train.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Scientists say predators are needed to prevent the moose herd, which totals about 1,500, from becoming so large that the voracious animals overeat trees and shrubs. John Flesher, The Seattle Times, "Wolf taken to Isle Royale National Park this fall dies," 14 Nov. 2018 Staff members are planning to make trips to the island this week to check on the Shackleford Banks herd. Frank Miles, Fox News, "Florence could trigger 'record' flooding in South Carolina; thousands urged to evacuate," 24 Sep. 2018 Over the past 10-15 years, the Northwest Arctic Caribou Herd has decreased by half its size, and the herd has changed their migration patterns. Maka Monture, Teen Vogue, "The Arctic Youth Ambassadors Program Is Bringing Awareness to Environmental and Community Issues in Alaska," 24 Sep. 2018 The North American bison, for example, has gradually returned from near extinction largely due to reintroductions from the few small herds that were once left. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Transplanted mammals take a century to learn to “surf the green wave”," 7 Sep. 2018 Directors of public companies also have more incentive to ride herd on a CEO who is causing trouble. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Elon Musk’s Public Reckoning," 28 Aug. 2018 The wild herds that once migrated between the High Sierra and Central Valley have diminished or are gone. Tom Stienstra, SFChronicle.com, "First breath, first steps in little-seen wildlife world," 1 July 2018 There are times to ride herd, and there are times to ease off, sure. Paul Daugherty, Cincinnati.com, "Daugherty's Morning Line: Jim Riggleman shouldn't be praising Cincinnati Reds after loss," 6 June 2018 Central to that effort was WEDC events chief Rachel Best, who rode herd on a seemingly endless string of bus tours, aircraft flights, SUV rentals and dinners, with the details often fluid. Rick Romell And Lee Bergquist, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Across 20,000 pages, the pursuit of Foxconn unfolds," 2 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

As politicians debated what to do, before dawn on Aug. 26, a desperate group of 59 men, eight women and four children from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Syria were herded into a refrigerated truck in southern Hungary. Marc Santora, New York Times, "They Let 71 People Die in a Stifling Truck. They Got 25 Years.," 14 June 2018 Cattle are herded into a sale arena at the Oklahoma National Stockyards in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, April 24, 2018. Washington Post, "Drought, wildfires force ranchers to scramble for feed," 24 Apr. 2018 Women and children were herded into a drainage ditch and slaughtered. Fox News, "50 years ago, the My Lai massacre shamed the US military," 15 Mar. 2018 All of the dogs were Samoyeds, a breed of large herding dog with a thick, white, double-layer coat famous for herding reindeer in Siberia, and ranged in age from young puppies to nine years old. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "Over 160 Dogs and Puppies Were Rescued From an Iowa Puppy Mill With the ASPCA's Help," 15 Nov. 2018 German troops herd nearly 300 Italian women and children inside a church and burn it. Megan Koreman, WSJ, "Five Best: Megan Koreman on the Cost of Courage Under Nazism," 25 Oct. 2018 The friars dispatched Native American vaqueros, probably teenagers, to herd the animals 30 miles downriver to the Goat Ranch. Joe Holley, Houston Chronicle, "The remarkable Ana Maria Calvillo: She could ride, shoot, ranch and live in peace with the Indians," 29 June 2018 The bulls at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue were no easier to herd. Evan Thomas, New York Times, "Gerald Ford, President Nice Guy," 26 June 2018 Guards for the private security contractors shackle the migrants and herd them onto unmarked buses and vans for transport back to the Border Patrol detention center. Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY, "Texas border chaos: Courts, families, government collide in zero-tolerance debacle," 22 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'herd.' 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 herd


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for herd


Middle English, from Old English heord; akin to Old High German herta herd, Middle Welsh cordd troop, Lithuanian kerdžius shepherd


see herd entry 1

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Statistics for herd

Last Updated

9 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for herd

The first known use of herd was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for herd



English Language Learners Definition of herd

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a group of animals that live or are kept together

: a large group of people

the herd : common people : people as a group



English Language Learners Definition of herd (Entry 2 of 2)

: to gather and move (a group of animals)

: to move (people) in a group

: to form a group or move as a group


\ˈhərd \

Kids Definition of herd

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a number of animals of one kind kept or living together a herd of cows


herded; herding

Kids Definition of herd (Entry 2 of 2)

: to gather and move as a group herd cattle

Other Words from herd

herder \ˈhərd-​ər \ noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on herd

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with herd

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for herd

Spanish Central: Translation of herd

Nglish: Translation of herd for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of herd for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about herd

Comments on herd

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a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

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