Definition of breed in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /brēd/

verb (past and past participle bred /bred/)

[with object]
1Cause (an animal) to produce offspring, typically in a controlled and organized way: he wants to see the animals his new stock has been bred from
More example sentences
  • Cows were bred to Brangus bulls during the 60-d breeding season, with 1 bull per 18 cows.
  • Hereford sires were bred to Angus and MARC III cows.
  • Mules, animals that result from breeding a male donkey with a female horse, are usually sterile.
1.1 [no object] (Of animals) mate and then produce offspring: toads are said to return to the pond of their birth to breed (as adjective breeding) the breeding season
More example sentences
  • There are, he says, at least 200 different species of bacteria breeding feverishly behind your lips.
  • Some Australian bird species or parrot species will breed quite happily here in captivity.
  • And they also believe that the creatures are breeding in our countryside.
reproduce, produce/bear/generate offspring, procreate, multiply, propagate;
1.2Develop (a kind of animal or plant) for a particular purpose or quality: these horses are bred for this sport
More example sentences
  • Most leeks can be harvested for use as baby leeks, but some varieties are bred for culinary appeal as baby leeks.
  • Hybrid seeds, on the other hand, are bred for qualities such as longevity or disease resistance.
  • Many seed catalogs feature varieties that are bred for small size plots - and organic too!
1.3Rear and train (someone) to behave in a particular way or have certain qualities: Theresa had been beautifully bred
More example sentences
  • I brought you up and bred you and this is how you repay me?
  • If we were to breed you for hosts, how could we keep you knowledgeable, but subservient?
  • Seems like the better bred you are, the more of a jerk you turn out to be.
bring up, rear, raise, nurture
1.4Cause (something) to happen or occur, typically over a period of time: success breeds confidence
More example sentences
  • Naturally, I concluded that athletic success bred confidence that carries through into professional life.
  • Or could it be that beauty breeds fame and success?
  • Usually, success breeds envy and resentment, but we've stayed good friends.
cause, bring about, give rise to, lead to, produce, generate, foster, result in;
stir up
literary beget
1.5 Physics Create (fissile material) by nuclear reaction.
Example sentences
  • The reactor was designed for breeding plutonium and can readily be converted to do so.
  • The breeding reactor is included in the cooling circuit with a lower coolant temperature.
  • Only small fractions of these fertile elements are needed for clandestine breeding of fissionable fuels.


1A stock of animals or plants within a species having a distinctive appearance and typically having been developed by deliberate selection.
Example sentences
  • This text would be very applicable for an introductory course in animal breeds, selection, evaluation and judging.
  • I would point out that we have special breeds of animals that we bred for hundreds of years.
  • In the section for cattle, about 600 stud animals of 15 different breeds and 16 slaughter steers have been entered.
variety, stock, strain;
type, kind, sort
1.1A sort or kind of person or thing: a new breed of entrepreneurs was brought into being
More example sentences
  • There were breeds of all sorts talking and singing, having a good time.
  • It was said that entrepreneurs were a special breed, more driven to succeed than the rest of us.
  • We must find a way to accommodate both breeds of military professional.
type, kind, sort, variety, class, brand, genre, generation



a breed apart

A sort or kind or person that is very different from the norm: Japanese capitalism is a breed apart from that found in the US
More example sentences
  • Regular callers to these programmes are a breed apart.
  • While the Danes, Swedes and Norwegians are of the same race with similar languages, the Finns are a breed apart.
  • English directors are a breed apart and unlike anything we have in this country.

a dying breed

A sort or kind of person that is slowly disappearing: the country’s dying breed of elder statesmen
More example sentences
  • But I wonder if that huggable American tourist is a dying breed.
  • Restaurants like the Shamrock are a dying breed in Vancouver.
  • Windsurfers may be a dying breed in the United States, but the sport is alive and kicking on the Italian Riviera.

what's bred in the bone will come out in the flesh (or blood)

see bone.


Old English brēdan 'produce (offspring), bear (a child)', of Germanic origin; related to German brüten, also to brood.

Words that rhyme with breed

accede, bead, Bede, bleed, cede, concede, creed, deed, Eid, exceed, feed, Gide, God speed, greed, he'd, heed, impede, interbreed, intercede, Jamshid, knead, lead, mead, Mede, meed, misdeed, mislead, misread, need, plead, proceed, read, rede, reed, Reid, retrocede, screed, secede, seed, she'd, speed, stampede, steed, succeed, supersede, Swede, tweed, weak-kneed, we'd, weed

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: breed

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.