Definition of sheep in English:

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Pronunciation: /ʃiːp/

noun (plural same)

Image of sheep
1A domesticated ruminant mammal with a thick woolly coat and (typically only in the male) curving horns. It is kept in flocks for its wool or meat, and is proverbial for its tendency to follow others in the flock.
  • Ovis aries, family Bovidae, descended from the wild mouflon.
Example sentences
  • Chickens and turkeys were kept both for their eggs and meat just as sheep provided wool and meat.
  • To one side was a rolling expanse of pasture land, clustered with flocks of sheep so thick that hundreds must graze there.
  • In the case of meat sheep versus wool sheep, wool is usually around $10 a kilo, and meat $2 a kilo.
ram, ewe, lamb, wether, bellwether;
British  tup
Australian informal jumbuck, woolly
1.1A wild mammal related to this, such as the argali, bighorn, bharal, and urial.
Example sentences
  • The hot spot is also home to a rich variety of ungulates (animals with hooves), including the threatened argali wild sheep.
  • Wildlife, including the Tibetan antelope and the Argali sheep, has also been threatened by indiscriminate hunting.
  • Low, rugged mountains criss-cross the desert and are home to argali sheep and Siberian ibex.
2Used with reference to people who are too easily influenced or led: party members should not follow their leader like sheep
More example sentences
  • Perhaps the inhabitants are sheep, easily lead around by the government etc.
  • Of course not - everyone feels sorry for him, but we don't wander round beating our chests and wailing like the easily led sheep of Liverpool do…
  • I'm just thankful to my bended knees that the stoned out, easily influenced hippie sheep of the day didn't buy more copies of it.
3A person regarded as a protected follower of God.
With biblical allusion to Luke 15:6
Example sentences
  • And amid all this we are to preach the gospel of salvation, gathering in the lost sheep of Christ till the church is complete.
  • The church is not merely an organisation; it comprises the sheep for whom Christ died.
  • But, above all, he was one of the lost sheep whom the Lord Jesus Christ sought out and saved.
3.1A member of a minister’s congregation.
Example sentences
  • Wouldn't it be wonderful if you, as the shepherd of your class, could develop a whole team of shepherds to reach out to many of the drifting sheep in your congregation?
  • The head of the parish and the leader of our services was the pastor and we, the congregation, were his sheep, or the ‘flock’.



count sheep

Count imaginary sheep jumping over a fence one by one in an attempt to send oneself to sleep.
Example sentences
  • Oh, poor you… try counting sheep jumping over gates or something, that usually works for you.
  • When insomnia chases sleep away, counting sheep or tossing and turning all night seem to be the only alternatives.
  • ‘Normal people count sheep when they sleep and dream,’ Julia said.

make sheep's eyes at someone

Look at someone in a foolishly amorous way.
Example sentences
  • Munnuswamy's son, Gopala, makes sheep's eyes at Sripathi Rao's sister Putti and, what is worse, his spinster sister, quite unmindful of her superior Brahmin ancestry, simpers back.



Example sentences
  • We must never become a nation cowed by fear, sheeplike in our submission to the power of any majority demanding absolute control.
  • The progressive authors of much of America's patriotic iconography rejected blind nationalism, militaristic drumbeating and sheeplike conformism.
  • Do we really think that juries are so sheeplike that they have to be shielded from fact and opinion?


Old English scēp, scǣp, scēap, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch schaap and German Schaf.

  • We have had sheep in the language since Anglo-Saxon times, but perhaps surprisingly people did not start using the word to mean ‘someone too easily influenced or led’ until the 16th century. The expression to separate the sheep from the goats, ‘to divide people or things into superior and inferior groups’, is a biblical reference to the account of the Last Judgement in the Gospel of Matthew. There the apostle describes how all the nations of the world will be gathered before God and how ‘He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.’

Words that rhyme with sheep

asleep, beep, bleep, cheap, cheep, creep, deep, heap, Jeep, keep, leap, neap, neep, peep, reap, seep, skin-deep, sleep, steep, Streep, sweep, veep, weep

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: sheep

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