Definition of callow in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkalō/


(Especially of a young person) inexperienced and immature: earnest and callow undergraduates
More example sentences
  • Sending off a bunch of callow lads because a few opinion-formers safely over conscription age thought it was a good idea and might secure the next election would have been outrageous.
  • A callow president had the sense to surround himself with people who had three great virtues.
  • He finds a way for us to root for the callow man, and even root for Martha and him to find happiness any way they can.
immature, inexperienced, juvenile, adolescent, naive, green, raw, untried, unworldly, unsophisticated
informal wet behind the ears



Example sentences
  • It begins by evoking the glamorous life of a young woman who lives happily if callowly in a cocoon of utter fabulousness.
  • He smiled and callowly looked down for a moment.
  • It was my first encounter with a particular kind of reality, which my religion, my upbringing, and the callowly romantic cast of my mind had declared obscene.


Example sentences
  • Patch Darragh has an aw-shucks quality that does fine at capturing Romeo's callowness and naïveté.
  • The callowness now on display goes a long way toward explaining why politicians and the media are held in public esteem somewhere above child molesters and below bankers.
  • To overcome the obvious disadvantages of such callowness, standout toughness or really remarkable talent are required.


Old English calu 'bald'; probably from Latin calvus 'bald'. This was extended to mean 'unfledged', which led to the present sense 'immature'.

  • You would not think of a callow youth as someone who was bald, but that is what Old English calu meant. A later use referred to young birds and meant ‘not yet able to fly, unfledged’. The idea of fluffy young birds must have put people in mind of the down on a youth's cheek and chin, which led to the present sense ‘immature or inexperienced’.

Words that rhyme with callow

aloe, fallow, hallow, mallow, marshmallow, sallow, shallow, tallow

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: cal·low

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