weth·​er | \ˈwe-t͟hər \

Definition of wether 

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

In this April 4, 2018 file photo, the building of the Brazilian Supreme Court is surrounded by guardrails at dawn, the day the court will decide on wether to imprison former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, in Brasilia. Washington Post, "Senior politicians in Brazil could soon face swifter justice," 1 May 2018 Whoever does replace the Italian will have to make a decision on wether or not Morata will be allowed to leave. SI.com, "Juventus Reportedly Interested in Re-Signing Chelsea Forward as They Look to Refresh Strike Force," 10 Apr. 2018 First Officer Saru, now captain due to Lorca's abduction, must decide wether to subjugate a possibly sentient lifeform against its will or try to save the captain. Darren Orf, Popular Mechanics, "'Star Trek: Discovery' Finally Gets a Crew," 16 Oct. 2017 For wethers, neutered goats, behavior accounts for 25 out of a possible 100 points. Jacob Sweet, sacbee, "From blow drying to delivering babies, this pre-teen shines in the world of pygmy goats," 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about wether

Statistics for wether

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for wether

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on wether

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with wether

Nglish: Translation of wether for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wether for Arabic Speakers

Comments on wether

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


to enclose within walls

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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