often attributive
: any of several grasses (genus Avena)
especially : a widely cultivated cereal grass (A. sativa)
: a crop or plot of the oat
also : the seed of an oat
usually used in plural but singular or plural in construction
archaic : a reed instrument made of an oat straw

Illustration of oat

Illustration of oat
  • oat 1a
feel one's oats
: to act in a newly self-confident and often self-important manner

Examples of oat in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This set comes in five colors: navy, wine, charcoal, light gray, and oat. Nor'adila Hepburn, Southern Living, 17 Nov. 2023 Enjoy warm oats mixed with hot water, soak in almond milk with pureed fruit and spices overnight, and eat chilled. Cynthia Sass, Mph, Rd, Health, 31 Oct. 2023 In 1937, Logan and Hershey’s settled on a mix of oat flour, skim milk powder, cocoa butter and chocolate liquor, but not a lot of sugar, leaving a dry, bitter aftertaste. Kovie Biakolo, Smithsonian Magazine, 25 Oct. 2023 Apple Cranberry Crumb Pie Fresh cranberries act as a tart counterpoint to sweet apples in this filling topped with an oat crumble. Aaron Hutcherson, Washington Post, 23 Oct. 2023 The breakfast menu included avocado toast; overnight oat cups with fruit and cashew butter; and power balls crafted of dates, pistachio nuts, matcha powder, vanilla, rose petals and NB Pure Plant Protein, an event sponsor. Ingrid Schmidt, The Hollywood Reporter, 13 Nov. 2023 The brand celebrated its 100th birthday this year, prompting ridiculous merchandise (fine silver replicas of Vegemite jars that sold out in four hours) and an abundance of questionable collaborations (Vegemite oats, Vegemite roast chicken, Vegemite Taco Bell). Natasha Frost Abigail Varney, New York Times, 12 Nov. 2023 The Instant Knockout Complete meal replacement formula then also has oat flour, golden flax seeds, MCTs (medium chain triglycerides), pea starch, rice hull concentrate, and plenty of fibre, vitamins, and minerals. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 14 Aug. 2023 Taika does use macadamia milk, as opposed to more popular milk alternatives like almond or oat, which could be the reason for the subtle finish. Megan Wahn, Bon Appétit, 30 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'oat.' 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 ote "the grain of the oat plant, the plant itself," going back to Old English āte (weak feminine noun), of uncertain origin

Note: Old English āte has been compared with regional Dutch aate, oote "wild oats" (West and Zeeland Flanders), West Frisian and Groningen Dutch oat. (These contrast with Dutch haver, denoting cultivated oats, a reflex of the Common Germanic word for the grain.) Michiel de Vaan, in an addenda to the online etymologiebank.nl, believes that the Flanders words are semantic extensions of regional aat "food," of general Germanic origin (see eat entry 2), though this hypothesis would scarcely explain the Old English word. Jan de Vries (Nederlands Etymologisch Woordenboek, Brill, 1971) hypothesizes that the Low Country words may have been borrowed from English.

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near oat

Cite this Entry

“Oat.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oat. Accessed 6 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a grain that is widely grown for its long loose clusters of seeds which are used for human food and for livestock feed

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