\ ˈhu̇f How to pronounce hoof (audio) , ˈhüf How to pronounce hoof (audio) \
plural hooves\ ˈhüvz How to pronounce hooves (audio) , ˈhu̇vz \ also hoofs

Definition of hoof

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a curved covering of horn that protects the front of or encloses the ends of the digits of an ungulate mammal and that corresponds to a nail or claw
2 : a hoofed foot especially of a horse
on the hoof
of a meat animal : before butchering : living 90¢ a pound on the hoof


hoofed; hoofing; hoofs

Definition of hoof (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to walk especially with haste hoofed it to the lecture hall

intransitive verb

: to move on the feet especially : dance

Illustration of hoof

Illustration of hoof


hoof 2: 1, 2, 3, 4 parts of wall (1 toe, 2 side walls, 3 quarters, 4 buttresses), 5 bulbs, 6 sole, 7 frog

In the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of hoof in a Sentence

Verb The cast was hoofing on the stage.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Compounding the problem is that invasive European grasses first brought in on the hooves of Spanish cattle have replaced many of the tough native bunch grasses, wildflowers, and original chaparral that are adapted not to burn as easily. David Helvarg, National Geographic, "How will California prevent more mega-wildfire disasters?," 20 Dec. 2019 Watch the hooves of a dying creature frantically scrabbling to escape, trying to obey signals from its brain that its body can no longer execute. David E. Petzal, Field & Stream, "When Is it Time to Stop Pulling the Trigger?," 3 Dec. 2019 Actors fall off their horses, get trampled by hooves, crack a skull or break a bone. Jennifer Percy, Harper's magazine, "The Skinning Tree," 20 Jan. 2020 Deer hooves fresh from the hunt, a mismatched pair of cowboy boots, 40 millimeter bullet shells, a violin. Caroline Glenn, orlandosentinel.com, "A balloon boutique, lamp shop and flag emporium: How do these Orlando landmarks stay in business?," 29 Nov. 2019 Camp within earshot of Havasu Falls and hoof back to your car at sunup. Robert Earle Howells, National Geographic, "Discover the Grand Canyon's less-trafficked trails," 12 June 2019 Judy Maxwell Home carries miniature fishing rods that are actually lighters, rubber horse hooves to be worn over the hands, and rolls of toilet paper bearing the President’s face. Lauren Larson, The New Yorker, "Joan Cusack Has a Tchotchke Shop of Her Own," 23 Dec. 2019 Bison manure and urine provide nutrients for prairie plants, and their hoof prints can help oxygen flow into the soil. Mark Tutton, CNN, "Why bringing back bison could help restore America's lost prairie," 25 Nov. 2019 Storm the Court followed in his sire's hoof prints. Beth Harris, The Courier-Journal, "Storm the Court scores 45-1 upset in Breeders' Cup Juvenile," 2 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Some travel writers prefer to hoof it or take a boat. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, "The 87 Greatest Travel Books of All Time, According to Authors," 8 Jan. 2020 Especially with 10:52 left in the first half, when Detroit’s Jamal Agnew took a Colby Waldman punt, broke a Joe Jones tackle, and hoofed it 64 yards for a touchdown, pushing the Lions lead to 10-0. Sean Keeler, The Denver Post, "Broncos up-down drill: Best and worst performances against the Lions," 22 Dec. 2019 Hikers have come a long, long way from clunky framed backpacks, heavy boots, and hoofing it in floor-length wool skirts. Gray Chapman, SELF, "23 Helpful Gifts for Hikers, According to a Seasoned Trekker," 11 Dec. 2019 The views start opening up after 3 miles, but the highlight of the hike is hoofing it to the top of North Dome, scurrying a bit farther down the other side and drinking in views of Half Dome. Washington Post, "Disturbing the peace? 5 hikes to avoid Yosemite crowds," 25 Nov. 2019 After making Queen Elizabeth quite literally hoof it over to the Houses of Parliament and read out his plans for the forthcoming legislative session, Boris Johnson needs to get back to the real task in hand -- getting a Brexit deal. Luke Mcgee, CNN, "The Queen just read out Boris Johnson's stump speech," 14 Oct. 2019 Saturday, drivers on Highway 99 northwest of Fresno were slowing down and rubbing their eyes when an emu decided to hoof it along the shoulder of the busy roadway. Joan Morris, The Mercury News, "It’s a (highway) jungle out there," 14 Sep. 2019 Bring on the big man, hoof the ball long and let chaos ensue. SI.com, "How Napoli Have Evolved Since Last Year's Liverpool Encounters," 11 Sep. 2019 The most compelling explanation is that high-quality games involve teams who are good at retaining possession, and low-quality ones feature those who spend most of the time hoofing the ball in the air and tackling each other. Fox News, "French mayor dies after trying to stop illegal dumping: report," 8 Aug. 2019

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


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1641, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for hoof


Middle English, from Old English hōf; akin to Old High German huof hoof, Sanskrit śapha

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about hoof

Time Traveler for hoof

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for hoof

Last Updated

18 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Hoof.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hoof. Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for hoof


How to pronounce hoof (audio) How to pronounce hoof (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of hoof

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the hard covering on the foot of an animal (such as a horse or pig)



English Language Learners Definition of hoof (Entry 2 of 2)

US, informal : to dance as a performer


\ ˈhu̇f How to pronounce hoof (audio) , ˈhüf \
plural hooves\ ˈhu̇vz , ˈhüvz \ or hoofs

Kids Definition of hoof

1 : a covering of tough material that protects the ends of the toes of some animals (as horses, oxen, or pigs)
2 : a foot (as of a horse) covered by a hoof

Other Words from hoof

hoofed \ ˈhu̇ft , ˈhüft \ adjective


\ ˈhu̇f How to pronounce hoof (audio) , ˈhüf How to pronounce hoof (audio) \
plural hooves\ ˈhüvz How to pronounce hooves (audio) , ˈhu̇vz How to pronounce hooves (audio) \ also hoofs

Medical Definition of hoof

: a horny covering that protects the ends of the toes of numerous plant-eating 4-footed mammals (as horses or cattle) also : a hoofed foot

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on hoof

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with hoof

Spanish Central: Translation of hoof

Nglish: Translation of hoof for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of hoof for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about hoof

Comments on hoof

What made you want to look up hoof? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

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!