weth·​er | \ ˈwe-t͟hər How to pronounce wether (audio) \

Definition of wether

: a male sheep castrated before sexual maturity also : a castrated male goat

How the Wether Came to Be a Trendsetter

Wether now typically refers to a castrated male sheep, although the word initially had the meaning of simply “a male sheep,” without any indication of its reproductive abilities. Wether serves as the second component of the word bellwether (“one that takes the lead or initiative” or “an indicator of trends”). The use of bellwether in this sense is from the practice of placing a bell around the neck of the sheep which would lead the flock, and not from any natural capacity for leadership on the part of this kind of animal.

Examples of wether in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web For wethers, neutered goats, behavior accounts for 25 out of a possible 100 points. Jacob Sweet, sacbee, 27 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'wether.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of wether

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for wether

Middle English, ram, from Old English; akin to Old High German widar ram, Latin vitulus calf, vetus old, Greek etos year

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

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Cite this Entry

“Wether.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wether. Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on wether

Nglish: Translation of wether for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wether for Arabic Speakers


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