noun, often attributive
\ ˈshēp How to pronounce sheep (audio) \
plural sheep

Definition of sheep

1 : any of various hollow-horned typically gregarious ruminant mammals (genus Ovis) related to the goats but stockier and lacking a beard in the male specifically : one (O. aries) long domesticated especially for its flesh and wool
2a : a timid defenseless creature
b : a timid docile person especially : one easily influenced or led
3 : leather prepared from the skins of sheep : sheepskin

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for sheep



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of sheep in a Sentence

he came to see that the members of the cult were sheep who naively went along with whatever their leader dictated
Recent Examples on the Web Others are born mature, emerging from the womb with teeth, fur, open eyes, and the abilities to regulate their temperature, walk within an hour of birth, and eat solid food (think guinea pigs, sheep, and giraffes). David Eagleman, Time, "Why Do We Dream? A New Theory on How It Protects Our Brains," 29 Dec. 2020 An animal kingdom crouches across the lawn: a dog park with mischievous feline interlopers, Cowboy Frosty and his longhorns, arctic snow creatures in tutus and a barn with chicks, pigs and sheep. Sharon Grigsby, Dallas News, "Why the Frisco home just filmed for ‘Great Christmas Light Fight’ is more than a viral sensation," 22 Dec. 2020 Heading into Friday’s game against Iowa at TCF Bank Stadium, Fleck has even demanded his players think about the trophy just before bed — and count pigs instead of sheep — so the rivalry will infiltrate their dreams. Megan Ryan, Star Tribune, "Gophers are hog wild to beat Iowa, reclaim Floyd of Rosedale trophy," 12 Nov. 2020 For them, that means turning it into pasture, with animals such as pigs, sheep and chickens that graze the land and are then sold at markets and to restaurants as meat. Sarah Bowman, The Indianapolis Star, "'Happening on our farm right now': Indiana regenerative farmer wants someone strong on climate," 29 Oct. 2020 The trees are enjoyed by her goats, Alpacas, sheep and even her pigs — over 30 animals in all benefit from these charitable post-Christmas gifts. Christopher Arnott,, "How to dispose of your Christmas tree? Give it to a goat, and other options," 1 Jan. 2021 The method has proven handy for distinguishing between bones of similar-looking creatures like sheep and goat, or rat and mouse. Bridget Alex, Smithsonian Magazine, "Ancient European Hunters Carved Human Bones Into Weapons," 21 Dec. 2020 Many of the animals died from diseases introduced by the Spaniards’ imported sheep and cattle. Popular Science, "Llamas are hotter than ever. Here’s why.," 21 Dec. 2020 Many of the animals died from diseases introduced by the Spaniards’ imported sheep and cattle. Emily Wakild, The Conversation, "Llamas are having a moment in the US, but they’ve been icons in South America for millennia," 18 Dec. 2020

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

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

History and Etymology for sheep

Middle English, from Old English scēap; akin to Old High German scāf sheep

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about sheep

Time Traveler for sheep

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for sheep

Last Updated

23 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sheep.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for sheep


How to pronounce sheep (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of sheep

: an animal with a thick woolly coat that is often raised for meat or for its wool and skin
: a person who does what other people say to do


\ ˈshēp How to pronounce sheep (audio) \
plural sheep

Kids Definition of sheep

1 : an animal related to the goat that is often raised for meat or for its wool and skin
2 : a weak helpless person who is easily led

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on sheep

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!