Definition of pastoral in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈpɑːst(ə)r(ə)l/


1(Of land) used for the keeping or grazing of sheep or cattle: scattered pastoral farms
More example sentences
  • In the early years, Tom focussed on developing the land and building his sheep and cattle business into a pastoral empire worth tens of millions of dollars.
  • In NSW the selector could settle on land in the pastoral domain without prior notice or official survey: this was free selection by free selectors.
  • The station went under the hammer for $1.76 million dollars and is the best price for pastoral land.
1.1Associated with country life: the view was pastoral, with rolling fields and grazing sheep
More example sentences
  • Environmental degradation associated with agricultural and pastoral practices has compounded the rural crisis.
  • The theory envisaged a simple agrarian and pastoral world inhabited by four kinds of people.
  • Unlike communities associated with agriculture and industry, the identities of pastoral groups have been far more elastic.
rural, country, countryside, countrified, outdoor, rustic, agricultural, agrarian, provincial, grassy, green, verdant;
simple, innocent, idyllic, unspoilt
literary bucolic, sylvan, Arcadian
rare exurban, georgic
1.2(Of a work of art) portraying or evoking country life, typically in a romanticized or idealized form.
Example sentences
  • Recalling the pastoral works of Homer Watson, her shots of rolling, sunbathed hills effectively showcase her background in still photography.
  • An idyllic pastoral quality is evoked by two men enjoying the view from the shore of Rocky Neck in the foreground, while a third walks by with his dog and two sheep.
  • Hall's pieces are pastoral, evoking the chirrup of birds who have learnt the song of car alarms, and the grunt of a badly maintained bus.
2(In the Christian Church) concerning or appropriate to the giving of spiritual guidance: pastoral and doctrinal issues clergy doing pastoral work
More example sentences
  • Although restricted by the government, he was allowed to engage in pastoral work and development projects, and served as chaplain to the foreign community in Phnom Penh, the capital.
  • As part of her pastoral work with St James, she also carried out communion at three Clitheroe nursing homes, Castleford, Pendle Court and Clitheroe Nursing Home.
  • For over ten years his pastoral work was always marked by gentleness, thoughtfulness and sensitivity, especially to those in trouble.
priestly, clerical, ecclesiastical, ministerial
rare hieratic, sacerdotal, vicarial, parsonical, rectorial, churchly, prelatic, apostolic
2.1Relating to or denoting a teacher’s responsibility for the general well-being of pupils or students: the pastoral care of boarders
More example sentences
  • One of the prime functions of a teacher is pastoral care, and students assume that their professors will offer moral instruction and guidance.
  • But when he showed interest in the post of acting principal teacher of pastoral care 18 months ago, he was told by the headteacher that he could not apply because he is not a Catholic.
  • Other areas praised by the Ofsted team include her leadership as head, and the pastoral care of pupils.


A work of literature portraying an idealized version of country life: the story, though a pastoral, has an actual connection with the life of agricultural labour
More example sentences
  • Their pastorals, both published in 1651, offered choices to Royalists in the aftermath of the crushing defeat at Worcester.
  • Educated at Oxford, he had written pastorals before leaving for London to become both actor and playwright.
  • He wrote The Distrest Mother, a successful adaptation of Racine's Andromaque, but is remembered chiefly for his quarrel with Pope over the relative merits of their pastorals.



Pronunciation: /ˈpɑːst(ə)r(ə)lɪz(ə)m/
Example sentences
  • She had taught at the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, from 1976-2000, specialising in the Indus civilisation, urbanisation, trade and pastoralism.
  • With the advent of non-traditional Aboriginal lifestyles, pastoralism, buffel grass, feral animals and road access to many places in the NT, land management has changed forever from pre-European times.
  • In more than a quarter of a century of land rights there has been no significant commercial development in the southern NT where Aborigines own half the land, despite ample opportunities in tourism, pastoralism and horticulture.


Pronunciation: /-ˈralɪti/


Pronunciation: /ˈpɑːst(ə)r(ə)li/
Example sentences
  • It's knowing that pastorally, someone's there - a confidant and friend of the club, and someone around who's also objective and neutral.
  • We are concerned that further moves in a multi-faith direction could be pastorally damaging and could undermine Christian outreach in the diocese.
  • We think it is a good idea, particularly pastorally.


Late Middle English: from Latin pastoralis 'relating to a shepherd', from pastor 'shepherd' (see pastor).

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: pas|tor¦al

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.