Definition of plough in English:

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Pronunciation: /plaʊ/
(US plow)


1A large farming implement with one or more blades fixed in a frame, drawn over soil to turn it over and cut furrows in preparation for the planting of seeds.
Example sentences
  • The strip shape of these plots suggests that they were ploughed with a heavy plough with a fixed mould board.
  • We could spend a lot of time talking about precision adjustments for plows, tillage implements, grain drills, and combines.
  • But like those in the first, they sow this new seed in traditional furrows and with traditional plows.
1.1 [mass noun] Land that has been ploughed: she saw a brown strip of plough
More example sentences
  • There were scattered houses and tree-lined roadways, then open plough, then clumps of trees.
1.2chiefly North American A snowplough.
Example sentences
  • Thankfully, she'd parked in his wide driveway so no one would have to worry about a plow sideswiping her car during the night.
  • There were a few cars, a plough clearing the parking areas and a sign reading ‘look around you and you can see all sorts of wild plants and animals’.
  • A Bradford Council highways spokesman said the snowploughs would be able to drive over the Burley Woodhead speed bumps, but would have to raise their plough blade to get over the humps.
2 (the Plough) British A prominent formation of seven stars in the constellation Ursa Major (the Great Bear), containing the Pointers that indicate the direction to the Pole Star. Also called the Big Dipper, Charles's Wain.
3 (also plough pose) A yoga pose assumed by lying on one’s back and swinging one’s legs over one’s head until the outstretched feet approach or touch the floor: poses such as the plough promote circulation and the drainage of blood from the legs
More example sentences
  • When these people bent their legs back over their heads in the plough pose, there was a greater risk of injury.
  • Before incorporating the practice of Halasana one should master Poorwa Halasana (the Preliminary plough pose) under guidance.
  • The plow pose reduces backache and can help you get to sleep.


[with object]
1Turn up the earth of (an area of land) with a plough, especially before sowing: the fields had all been ploughed up (as adjective ploughed) a ploughed field
More example sentences
  • With each spell of rain, farmers plough the fields to prevent weeds from growing.
  • If he decides to plough an area that has not been treated in the past ten years, he must consult with Duchas.
  • Another major emitter of pollution is farming, which releases carbon dioxide when the earth is ploughed and during other activities.
cultivate, till, work, furrow, harrow, ridge, break up, turn up
1.1Cut (a furrow or line) with or as if with a plough: icebergs have ploughed furrows on the seabed
More example sentences
  • Makes it a bit hard to plough a straight line when you can't see anything.
  • A rogue wind ploughs furrows across the Sound of Mull.
  • He still ploughs with the same enthusiasm of the man who ploughed that first furrow over a half a century ago.
1.2(Of a ship or boat) travel through (an area of water): cruise liners plough the long-sailed routes
More example sentences
  • The ship plowed the water, its broad sail bellying before the breeze, the crew enjoying their vacation from the oars.
  • Going back to her tiny quarters, she fell quickly asleep as the ship ploughed its way through the waters of the Atlantic under sullen skies.
  • The boat herself will tell you how to use the wind and how to plough the waters!
1.3 (plough something up) Unearth something while using a plough: some day someone will plough up the bomb and lose a leg
More example sentences
  • ‘There are ferns on every farm and farmers are ploughing them up every day,’ he declared.
  • Even today, farmers in Belgium and Northern France plough up an annual ‘iron harvest’ of unexploded shells from World War I, and occasional deaths do result.
2 [no object, with adverbial of direction] (Especially of a vehicle) move in a fast and uncontrolled manner: the car ploughed into the side of a van
More example sentences
  • She died in hospital from the injuries she suffered when three vehicles ploughed into the car on a busy dual carriageway near Malton.
  • Each time a car ploughs through the hedge, Mr Painter is left with the bill to fix it, which can cost up to £1,000.
  • However, while trying to improve his position, Chevrolet driver Alain Menu hit him on the second lap, causing Jaeger to run out of road and plough through the gravel.
career, plunge, crash, smash, bulldoze, hurtle, cannon, lurch, drive, run, careen
North American informal barrel
crash into, smash into, collide with, be in collision with, hit, strike, ram, smack into, slam into, bang into, meet head-on, run into, drive into, bump into, crack into/against;
dash against;
North American  impact
2.1Advance or progress laboriously or forcibly: they ploughed their way through deep snow the students are ploughing through a set of grammar exercises
More example sentences
  • I'm still plowing through the Anita Blake books - I'm near the end of book five tonight, and I have every intention of finishing it.
  • I'm still plowing through the boxes of stuff, and came across a book I swiped from my parents' shelf: a ‘Red Primer for Children and Diplomats.’
  • Tomaz continued, alone, plowing through waist-high snowdrifts, to the 26,504-foot summit.
trudge, plod, toil, clump, push one's way, wade, flounder, press, move laboriously
informal slog
British informal trog
persevere, persist, continue, carry on, go on, keep at it, keep on, keep going, keep it up, not give up, be persistent, be determined, see/follow something through, show determination, press on/ahead, plod on, stay with something, not take no for an answer;
be tenacious, be pertinacious, insist, be patient, be diligent, stand one's ground, stand fast/firm, hold on, hold out, go the distance, stay the course, grind away, struggle on, hammer away, stop at nothing, leave no stone unturned
informal plug away, peg away, stick at it, soldier on, hang on, stick to one's guns, stick it out, hang in there, bash on
2.2 (plough on) Continue steadily despite difficulties or warnings to stop: he ploughed on, trying to outline his plans
More example sentences
  • She took a breath and plowed on, despite her mind's pleas to stop talking.
  • He will plough on with the inevitable consequence of more and more soldiers dead.
  • So I'm going to do what I always do and just plow on through and fix things as I see they need fixing.
3chiefly North American Clear snow from (a road) using a snowplough: he could use the car only in summer because the roads weren’t ploughed in winter
More example sentences
  • It would probably take them a week to be able to shovel out a snowplow so it can plow the main roads, never mind the secondary streets.
  • The road is plowed all winter so one can park a vehicle within 20 meters of the climbs.
  • I'm quite snowed in, because the street is not plowed, so it's a good day to plow through those exams.
4British informal, dated Fail (an examination): not many people plough Greats and become a professor of Latin
More example sentences
  • Not many people plough Greats at 21 and become a professor of Latin at 33.



plough a lonely (or one's own) furrow

Follow a course of action in which one is isolated or in which one can act independently: it is more sensible for the college as a whole to act than for individual departments to plough a lonely furrow
More example sentences
  • Many collectors are fiercely independent and plough their own furrow.
  • They're so divorced from any other music right now, plowing their own furrow, yet still intimately connected to the fabric of contemporary culture.
  • A latecomer to rugby, he has always ploughed his own furrow.

put (or set) one's hand to the plough

Embark on a task: she needed a rest, but she had set her hand to the plough
With biblical allusion to Luke 9:62
More example sentences
  • There is no room for nostalgia, no looking back once we have put our hand to the plough.
  • The farmer put his hand to the plough to find brides for lonely country men.

Phrasal verbs

plough something in/back

Plough grass or other material into the soil to enrich it: clover was grown to plough in as green manure
More example sentences
  • Once the work is done, the mulch can be plowed in and grass can be planted.
  • In 1933 alone, $100 million was paid out to cotton farmers to plough their crop back into the ground!
  • Many cereal growers instead of baling straw chopped it up and ploughed it in as prices were poor.
1.1Invest money in a business or reinvest profits in the enterprise producing them: savings made through greater efficiency will be ploughed back into the service
More example sentences
  • If we fail to raise enough and they can't find a suitable private finance partner, no doubt we'll lose that money too and it will be ploughed in to pay for someone else's hospital.
  • She has been using a sports psychologist and almost all her prize money has been ploughed back into helping her career.
  • Camelot, which has ploughed thousands in lottery profits into the four in which Pinsent and Cracknell will now row, may have stumbled on a bonanza of big-screen proportions.
invest in, put money into, sink money into, lay out money on;
provide capital for, spend money on, fund, back, finance, underwrite, subsidize, support, pay for;
buy into, buy shares in, buy/take a stake in
informal get a piece of, splash out on



Example sentences
  • The ground had become so thoroughly dry and hard that it would require a good long soaking rain to make it anything like ploughable.
  • Inspite of Shamu's repeated reminders that the land is not ploughable due to heavy rocks, she persists.


Pronunciation: /ˈplaʊə/
Example sentences
  • Experts say they're largely poorly run, barely capable of providing food at subsistence level for just the new plowers of the soil.
  • In recent times Laois ploughers have made a name for themselves not just locally but also on the national scene.
  • Mr. Carnegie, the City's supervisor of winter control in the area where Mr. Winter fell, acknowledged that the City plowers and sanders do not inspect the sidewalk and pay attention to the build up of debris.


Late Old English plōh, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch ploeg and German Pflug. The spelling plough became common in England in the 18th century; earlier (16th–17th cents) the noun was normally spelled plough, the verb plow.

  • The spelling plough did not become common until the 18th century. Before that only the noun was normally spelled this way, and the verb was plow, which is still the US spelling for both noun and verb. A staple of the pub lunchtime menu is the ploughman's lunch, a cold meal consisting of bread and cheese usually served with pickle and salad. This is not the traditional rural snack it might seem. The first recorded use of the term can be traced back only to 1960, though two years before that the same kind of thing was being given a similar name in The Times: ‘In a certain inn today you have only to say, “Ploughboy's Lunch, please,” and for a shilling there is bread and cheese and pickled onions to go with your pint’. And over a century earlier we find this curious pre-echo: ‘The surprised poet swung forth to join them, with an extemporized sandwich, that looked like a ploughman's luncheon, in his hand’ (John Lockhart, Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, 1837).

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: plough

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