hide·​bound | \ ˈhīd-ˌbau̇nd How to pronounce hidebound (audio) \

Definition of hidebound

1 of a domestic animal : having a dry skin lacking in pliancy and adhering closely to the underlying flesh
2 : having an inflexible or ultraconservative character

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Hidebound has its origins in agriculture. The word, which appeared in English as hyde bounde in the 16th century, originally described cattle that, due to illness or poor feeding, had skin that clung to the skeleton and could not be pinched, loosened, or worked with the fingers. Hidebound has also been applied to humans - both literally, to describe people with tight skin, and figuratively. In its earliest figurative usage, hidebound meant "stingy" or "miserly." That sense has since fallen out of use, but a second figurative usage, describing people who are rigid or unyielding in their actions or beliefs, lives on in our language today.

Examples of hidebound in a Sentence

the hidebound innkeeper refused to see the need for a Web site, insisting that the inn had done without one for over 150 years
Recent Examples on the Web With his background, Reavis is the ideal pitmaster to push barbecue beyond its hidebound impulses. Washington Post, 3 May 2021 The Pulitzer Prize for music had long been considered problematic and hidebound. Washington Post, 18 Apr. 2021 What the world of housing looks, feels, and acts like now is a place with altogether less patience for hidebound stipulations as to what can and can’t be done. John Mcmanus, Forbes, 16 Apr. 2021 After a year of intense racial justice reckoning, a paralyzing pandemic and crippling economic shortfalls, aging hidebound institutions are scrambling just to stay afloat. New York Times, 11 Apr. 2021 But writer and historian David Olusoga expressed hopes that Britain might yet engage in some soul-searching over the scorchingly contemptuous treatment of a biracial outsider who many once hoped would help transform a hidebound monarchy. Christina Boyle, Los Angeles Times, 9 Mar. 2021 Beijing was rushing ahead as an aggressive loner, and many officers feared that Washington was too hidebound and burdened with the responsibilities of coalition-building and arms-control treaties to react quickly. William J. Broad, BostonGlobe.com, 25 Jan. 2021 Established under Taft in 1913, the agency had become a shadowy and hidebound hive of corruption under the president’s Republican successors. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 1 Mar. 2021 The Capitol Police is a unique agency, hidebound, typical of nothing, except, perhaps, in its opacity. William Finnegan, The New Yorker, 27 Feb. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hidebound.' 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 hidebound

1603, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for hidebound

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The first known use of hidebound was in 1603

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Last Updated

16 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Hidebound.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hidebound. Accessed 18 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for hidebound



English Language Learners Definition of hidebound

disapproving : not willing to accept new or different ideas


hide·​bound | \ ˈhīd-ˌbau̇nd How to pronounce hidebound (audio) \

Medical Definition of hidebound

1 : having a dry skin lacking in pliancy and adhering closely to the underlying flesh used of domestic animals
2 : having scleroderma used of human beings

More from Merriam-Webster on hidebound

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hidebound

Nglish: Translation of hidebound for Spanish Speakers


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