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plural hooves ˈhüvz How to pronounce hoof (audio)
also hoofs
: 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
: a hoofed foot especially of a horse

Illustration of hoof

Illustration of hoof
  • 1 2 3 4 parts of wall
  • 1 toe
  • 2 side walls
  • 3 quarters
  • 4 buttresses
  • 5 bulbs
  • 6 sole
  • 7 frog


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hoofed; hoofing; hoofs

transitive verb

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

intransitive verb

: to move on the feet
especially : dance
on the hoof
of a meat animal : before butchering : living
90¢ a pound on the hoof

Examples of hoof in a Sentence

Verb The cast was hoofing on the stage.
Recent Examples on the Web
Their hooves are smaller, and harder, than a horse’s, and mules are much surer-footed. David E. Petzal, Field & Stream, 23 Aug. 2023 Lowering blood insulin concentrations can also prevent horses from developing laminitis, a disease that inflames tissues in hooves that can necessitate euthanasia because of incurable pain. Jane Manfredi, The Conversation, 25 July 2023 Another fascinating trait of the species is their distinct and irregular star-like blotches extending to their hooves. Angel Saunders, Peoplemag, 24 July 2023 Animals were not provided adequate veterinary care and were observed with overgrown hoofs, abnormal growths and ulcerous wounds, the complaint states. Daniel Wu, Washington Post, 28 Aug. 2023 Every horse shoe, to one degree or another, starts out as a blank that is custom-shaped on an anvil to suit the horse's hoof and the animal's activities, such as pulling a wagon or riding. Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, 9 Aug. 2023 The tissue between the hoof and the coffin bone, the lowest bone in a horse, becomes inflamed and in the some cases the two parts separate. John Cherwa, Los Angeles Times, 9 June 2023 Two months after his surgery, Barbaro developed laminitis, requiring most of a hoof to be removed. Victor Mather, New York Times, 25 May 2023 Carroll tried relieving Otis of his pain by putting ice on his hooves and giving him medication, all to no avail. Jose R. Gonzalez, The Arizona Republic, 30 July 2023
Teams hustle to overwhelm an opponent’s base before a rival group claims theirs; as the contestants hoof through dense foliage, a drone shot soars over to capture the frenetic scramble. Siren Goes Off, Vulture, 16 June 2023 The usefulness of it while hoofing away from predators (or toward food) may have driven natural selection, the researchers say. Matt Hrodey, Discover Magazine, 31 May 2023 While San Diegans put up with one of the coldest, wettest winters in the last half century, the weather was Chamber of Commerce ideal Sunday: temperature in the 60s, little wind, waves crashing in the backdrop as the runners hoofed it along Carlsbad Boulevard. Don Norcross, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2 Apr. 2023 That’s good news for hikers and backpackers who happily hoof it to explore the remote shoreline. Mary Forgione, Los Angeles Times, 16 Dec. 2021 Want to hoof it? Caroline McKenzie, Country Living, 16 Nov. 2022 And now they’re all screwed and get to go hoof it through the nuclear wasteland that is Texas. Erik Kain, Forbes, 22 May 2022 Get out of your car and hoof it through three walk-through haunted attractions. oregonlive, 24 Sep. 2021 This encourages employees to skip the elevator and hoof it to their meetings. Nancy Clanton, ajc, 6 Jan. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'hoof.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



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

First Known Use


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


1641, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near hoof

Cite this Entry

“Hoof.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hoof. Accessed 25 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
plural hooves ˈhu̇vz How to pronounce hoof (audio)
or hoofs
: a covering of horn that protects the front of or encloses the ends of the toes of some mammals (as horses, oxen, and pigs) and that corresponds to a nail or claw
: a hoofed foot especially of a horse


2 of 2 verb
: to walk especially with haste
hoofed it to class
: to dance especially as a performer
watched the cast hoofing on the stage
hoofer noun

Medical Definition


plural hooves ˈhüvz How to pronounce hoof (audio) ˈhu̇vz How to pronounce hoof (audio) also hoofs
: 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

More from Merriam-Webster on hoof

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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