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 Exclusively consuming oats—and no other food—would likely put participants at a significant caloric deficit, which can and does lead to weight loss. Danielle Sinay, Glamour, 5 Apr. 2024 Sweet treats for Imbolc include rosemary oat cake, rosemary and lemon curd tarts, blackberry scones, bread pudding, chamomile and lemon custard tarts and jam tarts. Jenna Prestininzi, Detroit Free Press, 26 Jan. 2024 The quick-cooking variety is made from flattening oat groat bits. Southern Living Editors, Southern Living, 21 Mar. 2024 Commercial oat flour is made by milling oat groats, which are oat berries with their husks removed. Shilpa Uskokovic, Bon Appétit, 15 Mar. 2024 Customers who are lactose-intolerant or have milk allergies may pay up to $2 extra at Dunkin’ Donuts when substituting oat or almond milk for dairy in their beverages. Natalie Kainz, NBC News, 20 Jan. 2024 Sprüngli is a high-end cafe with a decadent version of bircher muesli, a breakfast dish of oats and fruit, and quite possibly the best hot chocolate in town. Noele Illien, New York Times, 4 Jan. 2024 The single dessert represented on the opening weekend menu was a Citrus Parfait ($12) with oat streusel, calamansi jelly and cognac cream. John Metcalfe, The Mercury News, 7 Mar. 2024 This cream contains oat peptides, which help to protect and lock in moisture, giving my hair a healthy shine. Essence, 5 Mar. 2024

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 24 Apr. 2024.

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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