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

Synonyms & Antonyms for sheep



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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 The goats and sheep are being used to help reduce the risk of grass fires that could spread to nearby homes. Jiovanni Lieggi, Fox News, 27 Apr. 2022 The other inhabitants of Jidada are pigs and cows, goats and sheep, cats and dogs, chickens and the odd peacock. New York Times, 6 Mar. 2022 Bones from pigs and ruminants (like cattle, goats, and sheep) will produce more fat and collagen than poultry like chicken or turkey. Audrey Bruno, SELF, 26 Feb. 2022 The plan called for a series of fire breaks, herds of goats, sheep and cattle to graze dry grasses and an emergency response system featuring high-definition fire detection cameras, an onsite fire station and a helipad. Alex Wigglesworth, Los Angeles Times, 10 Jan. 2022 In the valley of the Wadi Azum, a seasonal river in western Darfur near the modern-day border with Chad, generations of Aziza Idris Ahmed’s family tended cows, goats and sheep. Washington Post, 19 Nov. 2021 The Tarim people apparently did mix culturally with their neighbors, adopting such practices as herding cattle, goats and sheep, as well as farming wheat, barley and millet. Livia Gershon, Smithsonian Magazine, 28 Oct. 2021 Goats and sheep look up from a munch to watch a car drive by. Jill Barth, Forbes, 28 Sep. 2021 Goats and sheep raced by as ducks waddled around the garden, which stretches a city block. Alex Mann,, 11 Sep. 2021 See More

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.

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

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Time Traveler for sheep

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

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Statistics for sheep

Last Updated

11 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Sheep.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for sheep


\ 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

More from Merriam-Webster on sheep

Nglish: Translation of sheep for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sheep for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about sheep


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