\ 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 herd (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 Data scientist Youyang Gu predicts that the U.S. will reach herd immunity, at least 60% of the population being immune, thanks to vaccination or previous infection, by the summer of 2021. David Hogberg, Washington Examiner, "Coronavirus vaccine means the masks can come off. Eventually," 1 Jan. 2021 Doctors, nurses, administrators and other health care workers discovered new ways to do things to adapt to the threat of COVID-19 and expect challenges to continue into 2021 until enough people are vaccinated to establish herd immunity. Steve Sadin, chicagotribune.com, "How Lake County hospitals battled COVID-19: Six Flags rain ponchos replace gowns, ER tent rises overnight, nurses declared heroes," 31 Dec. 2020 But reaching herd immunity to accommodate capacity crowds may prove elusive. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "When in 2021 will pro, college and youth sports return to normal?," 31 Dec. 2020 For some perspective, scientists say about 75 percent of the population needs the vaccine to reach herd immunity. Annie Martin, orlandosentinel.com, "Here’s how to find out when more vaccine doses arrive in Central Florida and how far we are from herd immunity," 31 Dec. 2020 Without a significant speedup, vaccinating enough people in the United States to achieve herd immunity will take years, not months. Isaac Stanley-becker, Anchorage Daily News, "Shots are slow to reach arms as Trump administration leaves final steps of mass vaccination to beleaguered states," 31 Dec. 2020 Until enough people have been vaccinated to establish herd immunity, the safest thing to do is to behave as though everyone is vulnerable. Maryn Mckenna, Wired, "Yes to Masks. No to Parties. 2021 Will Be a Lot Like 2020," 31 Dec. 2020 Most scientists agree that well over 60% of a population would need to be immunized to achieve herd immunity, in which enough people are immune, either through vaccination or by contracting the disease, to stop the spread of a pathogen. Bojan Pancevski, WSJ, "U.K. Delays Second Covid-19 Vaccine Dose as Europe Ponders How to Speed Up Immunization," 30 Dec. 2020 The data also indicate that the city first hit by the virus is also far from achieving herd immunity. Washington Post, "China grapples with new coronavirus cases ahead of Lunar New Year," 29 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb What will be challenging is that the entire US won’t get to herd immunity at the same moment. Maryn Mckenna, Wired, "Yes to Masks. No to Parties. 2021 Will Be a Lot Like 2020," 31 Dec. 2020 In a bad-case scenario, the vaccines do so little to stop transmissions that herd immunity simply can’t be achieved through vaccination alone. Emily Baumgaertner, Anchorage Daily News, "Can COVID-19 vaccines get us to herd immunity? ‘The jury is definitely still out’," 27 Dec. 2020 Convincing roughly half of these skeptical Americans to take the shot, boosting Pv to 60.7%, shortens the time to herd immunity to two months, meaning July 2021. Zach Nayer, STAT, "On the road to herd immunity, vaccination speeds the journey," 17 Dec. 2020 DeWine commented on a new study that showed Ohioans were not close to herd immunity yet, saying that Ohioans might need to wear their masks for years. Emily Bamforth, cleveland, "See how Northeast Ohio public schools changed learning models throughout fall semester (maps)," 12 Dec. 2020 The agency provided initial funding for Confers in 2017 and helped herd the private-sector players together. Sarah Scoles, Wired, "There Are No Real Rules for Repairing Satellites in Space—Yet," 10 Dec. 2020 But even with the coming rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, Munkarah says about 70% of the population will need to be vaccinated to reach anything close to herd immunity. Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press, "576 Henry Ford workers off the job due to COVID-19 illness, exposure as hospitals fill up," 4 Dec. 2020 Desantis has also brought in controversial White House adviser Scott Atlas, who has supported ideas close to herd immunity, which some experts suggest could lead to millions of deaths nationwide. Steven Lemongello, orlandosentinel.com, "COVID-19 tracking apps are launching across the country, but not in Florida," 25 Nov. 2020 The first vaccine shipments in the United States will be just the beginning of what could be a long and turbulent ride to herd immunity and the return of something resembling normal life. Amina Khan Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Coronavirus Today: ‘Band-Aids on a very big wound’," 24 Nov. 2020

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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Time Traveler for herd

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for herd

Last Updated

9 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Herd.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/herd. Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

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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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