noun, often attributive
\ˈshēp \
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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for sheep


angel, dove, innocent, lamb



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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 result turned out to be a social media strategy that intersperses grim public safety announcements with glowing chairs, flying toasters, and giant sheep. Rachel Becker, The Verge, "Why a government agency is spreading memes about dogs riding pigeons," 29 Oct. 2018 Now, data from an unlikely source corroborates the nuclear theory: Australian sheep. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Sheep Glands Point to Nukes as Source of Mysterious 1979 Explosion," 12 Sep. 2018 Last year, counters saw no sheep there because the spring was dry. Ernie Cowan,, "Anza Borrego sheep count is for the extreme," 7 July 2018 Barnard vividly captures the vast and stirring Northern England countryside, the area’s tightly knit if wary farming community, and the fiscal and practical mechanics of raising — and, yes, even dipping — sheep. Gary Goldstein,, "Ruth Wilson stars in powerful British drama 'Dark River'," 28 June 2018 Hearst’s commitment to sustainability, of course, begins with her clothes: Her suits are spun from the wool of her family’s Uruguay sheep farm, and those suits are shipped in 100 percent biodegradable packaging. Nicole Phelps, Vogue, "Gabriela Hearst Just Opened the Most Beautiful Store in New York City," 5 Nov. 2018 Rather than penning up these animals in factory farms, allowing them to graze over wider pastures can help restore grasslands as cattle, sheep, and pigs aerate the soil and enrich it with manure. Umair Irfan, Vox, "Sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere, explained," 24 Oct. 2018 For the uninitiated, haggis is a Scottish delicacy of sheep or calf offal mixed with oatmeal, suet and seasoning boiled in a bag (often from the animal’s stomach). Jen Banowetz,, "Itasca's Scottish Festival and Highland Games brings Scotland to the suburbs," 13 May 2018 There's been no evidence of die-offs in Alaska's wild sheep or goats, according to Fish and Game spokesman Ken Marsh. Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News, "A pathogen that can kill wild sheep and goats has never turned up in Alaska — until now," 18 Mar. 2018

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.

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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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Statistics for sheep

Last Updated

7 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sheep

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

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More Definitions for sheep



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 \
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

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More from Merriam-Webster on sheep

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sheep

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sheep

Spanish Central: Translation of sheep

Nglish: Translation of sheep for Spanish Speakers

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

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).


a nest or breeding place

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