\ 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

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Other Words from herd


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

Synonyms for herd

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of herd in a Sentence

Noun The herd grazed peacefully in the pasture. A herd of shoppers waited anxiously for the store to open. Verb 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 Andrae said the devastation to pig herds across Asia had created export opportunities for Australian pig farmers in markets including the Philippines and Singapore. Rod Mcguirk, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Australia deports woman to Vietnam over smuggled pork," 15 Oct. 2019 The majority of an elephant herd in Thailand died Saturday trying to rescue a calf in the group. Li Cohen, CBS News, "Five adult elephants die after falling into waterfall trying to save calf," 5 Oct. 2019 The current outbreak was first detected in a herd in China last August, according to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization. Tripti Lahiri, Quartz, "China’s tapping its strategic meat reserves as pork prices soar 47%," 10 Sep. 2019 Brunhilda and other bison, who came from a private breeder, moved in with the park’s herd in 2011. Jill Tucker, SFChronicle.com, "Brunhilda, one of Golden Gate Park’s famous bison, has died," 16 Aug. 2019 Federal biologists have documented herds as large as 40,000 animals in recent years. Dan Joling, Anchorage Daily News, "Thousands of walruses show up early on Northwest Alaska coast as sea ice recedes," 1 Aug. 2019 Five years ago, there were 96 dairy herds in La Crosse County, where Creamery Creek Holsteins sprawls across 2,200 acres. Julie Bosman, BostonGlobe.com, "The dairy breakfast: The most important meal of the year," 22 June 2019 The Dutch government took a shine to the idea of rewilding, introducing deer and Konik horses to a 12,300-acre parcel of marshland outside Amsterdam but failed to cull the herd in winter or introduce any predators. Nina Sovich, WSJ, "The New Outdoor Getaway: Landscapes That Have Been ‘Rewilded’," 20 Sep. 2018 China raises about half of the world’s pigs, and the outbreaks of African swine fever that began over a year ago have ravaged its herds. Washington Post, "China pork prices soar as herds hit by fever, farm closures," 13 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Kids were still being herded off to Bureau of Indian Education schools that forced them to observe new religions and ways of life. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "The Fight to Occupy Alcatraz," 14 Oct. 2019 Nearly 160,000 Jews from Lodz and environs had been herded into the ghetto starting in 1940 to work in its factories, manufacturing materials for the Nazis. Howard Reich, chicagotribune.com, "Henryk Ross didn’t know if his secret photos from inside the Lodz Ghetto would survive the Holocaust. Half did and are now in Skokie.," 24 Sep. 2019 They’re herded to The Glen Arboretum (commonly just called the Glen), a 10-acre patch of forest in the middle of Towson University’s campus, and left to eat. Cody Boteler, baltimoresun.com, "No kidding about it: Goats fight invasive species at Towson University," 18 Sep. 2019 As many as 1 million Uighurs have been herded into reeducation camps, while Tibetans, Kazakhs, and other minorities are monitored and oppressed. Mona Charen, National Review, "What Hong Kong Means for the U.S.," 16 Aug. 2019 At the time, an expedition co-led by Haile-Selassie was digging at Woranso-Mille, a field site in Ethiopia’s Afar region less than three miles from Miro Dora, where Bereino was herding. Michael Greshko, National Geographic, "'Unprecedented' skull reveals face of human ancestor," 28 Aug. 2019 At farmsteads scattered between villages, people grew wheat and barley or herded sheep and cattle. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "This 2,400-year-old bark shield took a beating in an Iron Age fight," 31 May 2019 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

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

Noun and Verb

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

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Statistics for herd

Last Updated

11 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for herd

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

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More Definitions for herd


How to pronounce herd (audio)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on herd

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for herd

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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to speed up the process or progress of

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