\ 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

NewsDakota reports museum board president Don Williams and executive director Ilana Xinos found Dakota Miracle deceased during a routine herd and pasture inspection. USA TODAY, "Robot hostesses, veggie booze, ‘civil death’: News from around our 50 states," 4 July 2019 The landscape of Kamchatka Peninsula steams with sulfurous vapor, its 29 active volcanoes forming a hazy backdrop for the region’s herds of reindeer and rivers of salmon. Sophia Chen, WIRED, "New Analysis Techniques Unearth a Trove of Unusual Minerals," 1 July 2019 The breed takes it name from a mountain range in southwestern Europe where the dogs traditionally were used as livestock guardians to protect flocks and herds. Stephen Hudak, orlandosentinel.com, "Sweet 16! Great Pyrenees dog gives birth to 16 pups.," 24 June 2019 Five years ago, there were 96 dairy herds in La Crosse County, where Creamery Creek Holsteins, the farm named for the stream that runs through it, sprawls across 2,200 acres. Julie Bosman, New York Times, "Farms Have Folded. But the Dairy Breakfast Must Go On.," 21 June 2019 There are other, far more humane and effective ways to reduce our elephant population, such as encouraging herds to migrate back to other places such as Angola, where civil strife need no longer drive them away. Mokgweetsi Masisi, WSJ, "Hunting Elephants Will Help Them Survive," 19 June 2019 More than a dozen outdoor activities are planned, including a prairie scavenger hunt and a visit with Fermilab’s herd of bison. Michelle Mullins, Elgin Courier-News, "Elgin News Digest," 7 June 2019 More than a dozen outdoor activities are planned for the fair, including a prairie scavenger hunt and a visit with Fermilab’s herd of bison. Beacon-news Staff, Aurora Beacon-News, "Family Outdoor Fair planned at Fermilab," 3 June 2019 The country’s herd has shrunk by 20%, or roughly 100m, over the past year. The Economist, "UBS faces a China backlash because of a quip about pigs," 21 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Hours earlier, federal crews had herded hundreds of the birds out of the crown-jewel park and on toward their doom. Andrew Kenney, The Denver Post, "Denver’s catch-and-kill goose roundup could do away with half of resident birds," 3 July 2019 In February 1988, Charles Dabbs and Gerald Baumann walked into Rosati’s, and after emptying the cash register, Dabbs, along with Bauman, herded two men into the back bathroom where Dabbs shot them. Deborah Kadin, chicagotribune.com, "Retiring River Grove chief lauded for being a 'policeman's policeman'," 17 June 2019 Adrian Walker Decades of federal housing policy have herded low-income people into cities — pockets of cities, really — while giving them few opportunities for mobility. Adrian Walker, BostonGlobe.com, "In state-city squabble over low-income housing vouchers, city’s approach makes more sense," 11 June 2019 The custodian locked the school doors and teachers herded students into the gymnasium and lunchroom, where adults stood guard at entrances. Kyle Hopkins, ProPublica, "ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network," 16 May 2019 Dolphins quickly herd large schools of mullet towards the people, who wait with nets in the shallows, and once the the dolphins begin to dive, the fishermen throw their nets in, disorienting the fish, which benefits the dolphins as well. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "Our love of dolphins is not always good for them," 8 June 2019 Another challenge to coexistence is involving the Druze, whose communities are spread throughout Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and who herd about half of Golan’s livestock. Josh Adler, National Geographic, "Making peace in the Golan Heights—between humans and wolves," 11 Apr. 2019 The Assad government issued visas selectively and its minders herded journalists to stories that were consonant with its narrative. Muhammad Idrees Ahmad, The New York Review of Books, "How Assad Made Truth a Casualty of War," 7 Sep. 2018 From its deep dives into crackdowns on the rights of LGBTQ people to its déjà vu-inducing scenes of ICE agents herding people at airports, a great many things in Season 2 feel familiar, like watching MSNBC rather than a streaming show. Angela Watercutter, WIRED, "Handmaid’s Tale Season 2 Looks Eerily More Familiar Than Season 1," 25 Apr. 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.

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

8 Jul 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).


a small bunch of flowers

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


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!