Definition of hoof in English:

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Pronunciation: /ho͝of/
Pronunciation: /ho͞of/

noun (plural hoofs or hooves /ho͝ovz/ /ho͞ovz/)

The horny part of the foot of an ungulate animal, especially a horse: there was a clatter of hoofs as a rider came up to them
More example sentences
  • With their teeth, hooves, horns and dung, wildebeest have literally cultivated the grasslands.
  • I closed my eyes, the horses hooves and the rocking of the carriage almost lulling me to sleep.
  • She heard the clopping of horse hooves but she didn't know where it was coming from.


[with object] informal
1 (hoof it) Go on foot: it was awfully hot, but we hoofed it all the way back
More example sentences
  • If you are required to keep your cart on the path, you can end up walking farther than you would have if you hoofed it.
  • Why go with a guide instead of hoofing it on your own?
  • The bus wheezed up the road to the village of Naggar, where we disembarked, hoisted our packs, and started hoofing it.
1.1Dance: we hoof it reasonably fancily, and no one guffaws
More example sentences
  • Fred's a smart alec sailor who bumps into his old flame while on shore leave, and it's not long before they're hoofing it to ‘Let Yourself Go’ and ‘Dance’.
  • But, no, he really does run a dance club, and Maria is soon hoofing it in Geneva.
  • Certainly it's nothing new to see older dancers still hoofing it.


on the hoof

1(Of livestock) not yet slaughtered.
Example sentences
  • He said livestock was judged on the hoof at the show and subsequently slaughtered at the East London abattoir.
  • This all seemed to work well, but as well as this, according to the regulations, you must have a vet to first inspect all slaughter animals on the hoof - thus adding to the expense.
  • It is also used by a number of exporters in the Irish livestock industry who ship cattle on the hoof to Lebanon, Egypt and Europe.
2 informal Without great thought or preparation: policy was made on the hoof
More example sentences
  • Unfortunately they look set to continue the trend of setting parking policy on the hoof, in response to short-term financial pressures rather than in accordance with a long-term vision.
  • But too often, he appears to be making up crime policy on the hoof, like his decision today to release hundreds of criminals early because the prisons are full.
  • Are we about to witness more policy made on the hoof, or is this merely evidence they are struggling to defend the indefensible against valid widespread public protest?



Pronunciation: /ho͝oft/
Pronunciation: /ho͞oft/
Example sentences
  • If they're lucky, the couple will catch sight of the mousedeer, which is the world's smallest hoofed animal and features in local folklore.
  • Foot-and-mouth is a highly contagious viral disease which causes blisters and fever in hoofed animals.
  • Lions prey mostly on hoofed animals, although they occasionally consume fallen fruit.


Old English hōf, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch hoef and German Huf.

  • If a government makes policy on the hoof, it does so without proper thought and preparation. The original reference was to livestock that was alive and not yet slaughtered; the earliest example in print dates from 1818. The human foot is also treated like a cow's or horse's in the phrase to hoof it ‘to walk as opposed to ride’, which dates from as far back as the mid 17th century. To hoof meaning ‘to dance’, and hoofer ‘a dancer’ both arose in US slang in the 1920s.

Words that rhyme with hoof

aloof, behoof, goof, pouffe, proof, roof, shadoof, spoof, Tartuffe, underproof, woof

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: hoof

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