\ 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

The herds of Sweetwater Valley Farm cows number in the hundreds. Mary Ann Anderson, chicagotribune.com, "Old-fashioned road trip leads to East Tennessee culinary gems," 30 Aug. 2019 The San Francisco Zoo and Gardens, which cares for the bison herd, announced Brunhilda’s death Friday after a necropsy, according to The San Francisco Chronicle . San Diego Union-Tribune, "San Francisco bison named Brunhilda dies," 19 Aug. 2019 The Portuguese government is now enlisting an unusual team—or herd, rather—to prevent the burns: goats. Rachael Lallensack, Smithsonian, "Could Goats Help Solve Portugal’s Wildfire Crisis?," 19 Aug. 2019 In the summer, the weather hovers around a balmy 50 degrees, and caribou herds, sheep, and wild foxes can be seen. Jae Thomas, Marie Claire, "The Best National Parks for Every Kind of Vacation," 15 Aug. 2019 Connye, who was part of the Montgomery zoo’s giraffe herd, did not show any symptoms of illness in the days and weeks before her death, the zoo said. Howard Koplowitz | Hkoplowitz@al.com, al, "Connye, 4-year-old giraffe at Montgomery Zoo, dies unexpectedly," 13 Aug. 2019 The rest of the herd, who were apparently only out for themselves, left before this patch of land became an island — abandoning Hillary, as the locals have nicknamed the burro, all to her lonesome amid the rising waters. Julia Wick, Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: Orange County officially has more Democrats than Republicans," 8 Aug. 2019 On a coastline dotted with legendary wild horses, Lindeza, the matriarch of the Banker Pony herd on Ocracoke Island, stands out. Meghan Overdeep, Southern Living, "Meet the Outer Banks’ Most Unique Wild Horse," 5 Aug. 2019 The family raises cattle and brings with it a large herd, and the family quickly befriends Hatidze. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "“Honeyland,” Reviewed: A Gripping, Frustrating Documentary About a Beekeeper’s Fragile Isolation," 1 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Think of an attempt to herd cats…If that sounds like a fun challenge, then go for it. Jeff Reina, Houston Chronicle, "GHBA Remodelers Council: Dodge DIY remodeling disasters by hiring a pro," 14 July 2019 According to sources in the British Ministry of Defence, the Montrose drove off three Iranian gunboats that sought to herd the tanker into Iranian waters in or near the Straits of Hormuz. Sam Kiley, CNN, "Iran shows growing fury in the Gulf. It really is desperate to talk," 11 July 2019 And those who are too witless to understand, or pretend witlessness so as to herd others for partisan reasons, do no service to their nation. John Kass, Twin Cities, "John Kass: A.G. Bill Barr must find true reasons for Trump/Russia probe," 27 June 2019 There’s a covered terrace where families with young children seemed to get herded, a bit humid for summertime. Michael Mayo, sun-sentinel.com, "Review: The Terrace Grill at the Dalmar in Fort Lauderdale is a good-looking disappointment," 20 June 2019 And those who are too witless to understand, or pretend witlessness so as to herd others for partisan reasons, do no service to their nation. John Kass, chicagotribune.com, "Column: AG Bill Barr must find true reasons for Trump/Russia probe," 19 June 2019 To stem both poaching and human-wildlife conflict, park officials conducted regular helicopter drives to herd ungulates from adjacent fields back into the park. Benedict Moran, National Geographic, "Rwanda's war nearly destroyed this park. Now it's coming back.," 7 May 2019 Given that pigs aren't exactly easy to herd, this also means that there probably was some ritual aspect to the pig feasts, important enough to drive early Welsh and Scottish settlers back to the south of modern-day England. John Wenz, Popular Mechanics, "Study: Ancient Stonehenge Pig Roasts Brought in People From All Over Britain," 13 Mar. 2019 Hackettstown police officers responded to the scene and were able to herd up to 60 animals into their pen. Ryan Gaydos, Fox News, "Lone goat may be to blame for New Jersey escape last week," 13 Aug. 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

2 Sep 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).


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
True or False

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

Dictionary Devil

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!