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sheep definition


This page has 8 definitions of sheep in English, Middle English, and Scots. Sheep is a noun. Also define these 0 related words and terms: .

English sheep definition

A domestic sheep


Etymology 1

From Middle English schep, schepe, from Old English sċēap, from Proto-West Germanic *skāp, from Proto-Germanic *skēpą (compare West Frisian skiep, North Frisian schäip, Dutch schaap, German Schaf), beside *keppô (compare Old Norse kjappi (buck), dialectal German Kippe (newborn calf)), of unknown origin. Perhaps from the same Scythian word (compare Ossetian цӕу (cæw, goat), Persian چپش(čapiš, yearling goat))[1] which was borrowed into Albanian as cjap, sqap (buck) and into Slavic (compare Polish cap). After Kroonen, *skēpą is instead from the root of Proto-Germanic *skabaną (to scratch) via Kluge's law.[2]

Alternative forms

  • shoop (slang, chiefly humorous)
  • sheeps (plural, nonstandard or obsolete, often humorous)
  • sheepe (obsolete)


sheep (countable and uncountable, plural sheep)

  1. (countable) A woolly ruminant of the genus Ovis.
  2. (countable) A timid, shy person who is easily led by others.
    Synonym: ovine
  3. (countable, chiefly Christianity, chiefly plural) A religious adherent, a member of a congregation or religious community (compare flock).
    • 1990, Dave Mustaine, "Holy Wars... The Punishment Due", Megadeth, Rust in Peace.
      And fools like me, who cross the sea and come to foreign lands / Ask the sheep, for their beliefs do you kill on God's command?
  4. (uncountable) Sheepskin leather.
  5. (countable, speech recognition) A person who is easily understood by a speech recognition system; contrasted with goat.
Derived terms

See also

Further reading

Etymology 2



  1. (chiefly humorous) plural of shoop


  1. ^ Vladimir Orel, A Handbook of Germanic Etymology, s.vv. "*keppōn", "*skēpan" (Leiden: Brill, 2003), 213, 340
  2. ^ Guus Kroonen (2011), The Proto-Germanic n-stems: a study in diachronic morphophonology [1], Rodopi, →ISBN.


Middle English sheep definition



  1. Alternative form of schep

Scots sheep definition


From Middle English schep, from Old English scēap, from Proto-Germanic *skēpą.



sheep (plural sheeps)

  1. sheep (woolly ruminant of the genus Ovis)

Alternative forms