: of, relating to, or resembling sheep
ovine noun

Did you know?

Sheep belong to the same family of mammals as goats, antelope, bison, buffalo, and cows. The genus Ovis includes at least five species, including the domestic sheep. Some 12,000 years ago, in the area now known as Iraq, sheep became one of the first animals to be domesticated; only the dog is known to have been tamed earlier. At first, they were valued for their milk, skin, and meat (mutton and lamb); not until about 1500 B.C. did the weaving of wool begin. Today a billion sheep are being farmed worldwide. The term ovine (which is a noun as well as an adjective) is mostly used in scientific and medical writing—which means you could impress your friends by dropping it into a casual conversation.

Examples of ovine in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Dolly died in 2003 at the age of six from complications of a common ovine lung disease — sheep usually live to be 11 or 12 years old. Nathaniel Scharping, Discover Magazine, 26 July 2016 People have been counting sheep to fall asleep for hundreds of years, but former Saturday Night Live star Bobby Moynihan's delightful new picture book suggests that maybe these ovine animals have gotten a bad rap for being snooze-inducing. Lauren Morgan, EW.com, 20 Sep. 2022 These are the ovine foot soldiers in one of the most ambitious renewable energy revolutions in the United States. Noelle Swan, Scientific American, 21 Sep. 2019 But in my estimation, the ultimate funkmaster—and there can only be one—is U Pecorinu, our ovine demon-king. Molly Fitzpatrick, Bon Appetit, 26 Apr. 2018

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

Word History


Late Latin ovinus, from Latin ovis sheep — more at ewe

First Known Use

1676, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of ovine was in 1676

Dictionary Entries Near ovine

Cite this Entry

“Ovine.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ovine. Accessed 20 Jun. 2024.

Medical Definition


: of, relating to, or resembling sheep
ovine growth hormone
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