\ ˈhərd How to pronounce herd (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from herd


herdlike \ ˈhərd-​ˌlīk How to pronounce herdlike (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for herd

Synonyms: Noun

drove, flock

Synonyms: Verb

drive, punch, run

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

African swine fever has decimated pig herds in China and other Asian countries before reaching the Koreas. Washington Post, "South Korea culls pigs after confirming African swine fever," 18 Sep. 2019 When summer reaches the Alps of southwestern Austria’s Tirol Province, yodeling farmers gather in the dawn light to urge drowsy cows into milling herds. Danielle Bernabe, National Geographic, "Eat, drink, and herd cattle at this Austrian festival," 15 Sep. 2019 But this latest challenge, on the social app TikTok, is a clear reflection of just how damaging social media’s herd mentality influence can be. Christina Oehler, Health.com, "Teens Are Gluing Their Lips for an Internet Challenge—Here's Why That's a Bad Idea," 13 Sep. 2019 But since at least a third of China’s hog herd has been wiped out, these measures will not generate instant results. The Economist, "Soaring pork prices hog headlines and sow discontent in China," 12 Sep. 2019 Inflation data released Tuesday showed that pork prices surged 46.7% from a year earlier in August, almost 20 percentage points higher than in the previous month, as African swine fever ravaged China’s hog herd and diminished supplies. Fortune, "Why an Internet Meme Showing a Pork Necklace Is a Nightmare for Chinese Economic Officials," 10 Sep. 2019 Pork prices are sky-high in China due to a yearlong outbreak of African swine fever that saw mass culling of pig herds—in August, pork prices soared 47%, almost double the increase in July. Echo Huang, Quartz, "Chinese companies are rolling out fake meat mooncakes this Mid-Autumn Festival," 10 Sep. 2019 McSweeney’s departure from the General Assembly means there will be one less person in Springfield riding herd on fiscal sanity. Kristen Mcqueary, chicagotribune.com, "Column: In deadbeat Illinois, where was Republican outrage over fiscal insanity?," 9 Sep. 2019 Name Adorable Puppy Rescued from Flooded Car After Hurricane Dorian The herd manager will be staying at the farm through Dorian, the Fund added. Georgia Slater, PEOPLE.com, "Wild Horses of North Carolina's Outer Banks Will Ride Out Hurricane Dorian 'Butts to the Wind'," 5 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Police responded and herded them back into their pasture without incident. Joan Rusek, cleveland.com, "Excavator digs up safe buried in a resident’s back yard: Russell Township Police Blotter," 10 Sep. 2019 The harbormaster deployed to try and herd them back toward open waters. Alyssa Lukpat, BostonGlobe.com, "Seven stranded dolphins rescued in Wellfleet," 26 Aug. 2019 Weist’s job seems to consist of badgering his charges to post more videos and herding them from one meet-and-greet to the next. Los Angeles Times, "Review: ‘Jawline’ examines the fleeting fame of live streams," 21 Aug. 2019 Workers at Forever 21 were suddenly faced with a stampede of people running into the store, herding them to a lower floor. Michael Wilson, New York Times, "There Was No Gunfire in Times Square. But the Panic Was Still Real.," 7 Aug. 2019 Of course, there was dog trotting alongside trying to herd them, but their prime objective was to get into the lush greenery outside one of the neighbor's houses. Ryan Prior, CNN, "After escaping an enclosure, dozens of goats get loose and run through a neighborhood in Washington state," 31 July 2019 The animal caused quite a bit of damage before police were able to herd it out the door. Cnn.com Wire Service, The Mercury News, "Bodycam video: Why burglar wouldn’t ‘show us your hands’," 7 June 2019 Beagles can sniff out cancerous tumors in humans and let doctors know, for example, and a border collie can herd hundreds of sheep (or even turkeys) into an enclosure with remarkable speed and agility. Eva Frederick, Science | AAAS, "Humans haven’t just changed what dogs look like—we’ve altered the very structure of their brains," 2 Sep. 2019 And African penguins hunt more efficiently as a group, by herding large schools of fish. Jenny Howard, National Geographic, "Go inside a penguin rescue center with new 360 video," 29 July 2019

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.

See More

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

Noun and Verb

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about herd

Statistics for herd

Last Updated

14 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for herd

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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
: 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 How to pronounce herd (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

What made you want to look up herd? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


tired or exhausted

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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