Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Plowed but left unseeded during a growing season: fallow farmland.
  • adj. Characterized by inactivity: a fallow gold market.
  • n. Land left unseeded during a growing season.
  • n. The act of plowing land and leaving it unseeded.
  • n. The condition or period of being unseeded.
  • transitive v. To plow (land) without seeding it afterward.
  • transitive v. To plow and till (land), especially to eradicate or reduce weeds.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Ground ploughed and harrowed but left unseeded for one year.
  • n. Uncultivated land.
  • n. An area of fallow land.
  • adj. Ploughed but left unseeded for more than one planting season.
  • adj. Inactive; undeveloped.
  • v. To make land fallow for agricultural purposes.
  • adj. A pale red or yellow, light brown; dun.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Pale red or pale yellow.
  • adj. Left untilled or unsowed after plowing; uncultivated.
  • n. Plowed land.
  • n. Land that has lain a year or more untilled or unseeded; land plowed without being sowed for the season.
  • n. The plowing or tilling of land, without sowing it for a season.
  • transitive v. To plow, harrow, and break up, as land, without seeding, for the purpose of destroying weeds and insects, and rendering it mellow.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Pale; pale-yellow; yellowish; sallow.
  • To become fallow, pale, yellowish, or withered; fade; wither.
  • Plowed and left unseeded; left for a considerable time unworked or unseeded after tillage; untilled; uncultivated; neglected: said of land: often used figuratively.
  • n. Land broken up by the plow to prepare it for future seeding; land that has lain for a considerable time unseeded after tillage.
  • n. In agriculture, the method of allowing land to lie for a season or more untilled in order to increase its power of producing crops.
  • To render fallow; put (land) into the condition of a fallow, namely, by plowing, harrowing, and breaking it without seeding, for the purpose of destroying weeds and insects and rendering it mellow: as, it is well to fallow cold, strong, clayey land.
  • n. One of the strakes of a cart.
  • n.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. undeveloped but potentially useful
  • n. cultivated land that is not seeded for one or more growing seasons
  • adj. left unplowed and unseeded during a growing season

Etymologies

Middle English falow, from Old English fealh, fallow land.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English falow, from Old English fealh 'fallow land', from Proto-Germanic *falhaz (compare East Frisian falge, German Felge), from Proto-Indo-European *polk̑éh₂ 'arable land' (compare Gaulish olca, Russian polosá). (Wiktionary)
From Middle English falwe, from Old English fealu, from Proto-Germanic *falwaz (compare West Frisian feal, Dutch vaal, German falb, fahl), from Proto-Indo-European *polʷos (compare Lithuanian pal̃vas 'sallow, wan', Serbo-Croatian plâv 'blond, blue', Ancient Greek πολιός (poliós) 'grey'), from Proto-Indo-European *pel- 'pale'. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The term fallow, in Agriculture, designates that period in which the soil, left to the influence of the atmosphere, becomes enriched with those soluble mineral constituents.

    Familiar Letters on Chemistry

  • The word fallow is said to be derived from an ancient Saxon word signifying to become pale, in allusion to the manner in which the colour of the fallow deer is shaded down from the deep streak of dark brown on the back, to the pale fawn of the sides and the white under the body.

    The Lady's Country Companion: or, How to Enjoy a Country Life Rationally

  • What lies fallow is as if allowed by the license of the letter under the rule of flaw.

    Phonemanography: Romantic to Victorian

  • It will probably be easier to edit it down after it's been critiqued (and has lain fallow for three weeks) anyway.

    11/11/07: Wordstock

  • From the word-smithy: The word fallow was originally a farming term, applied to land that was left unseeded for a season or more to allow it to build up nutrients and regain productivity.

    Archive 2006-09-01

  • Now I am very glad, for there came to us our new citizen, Joseph, who plowed the portion of Jedidiah's field which had remained fallow from the day of his death.

    The Breakfast of the Birds, and Other Stories

  • It had lain fallow all his life so far as the abstract thought of the books was concerned, and it was ripe for the sowing.

    Chapter 7

  • "Owd Sammy" had finished his say, however, and having a sensible theory that having temporarily exhausted his views upon a subject, it was well to let the field lie in fallow, he did not begin again.

    That Lass o' Lowrie's: A Lancashire Story

  • The fruits of the earth (though it had long lain fallow, and therefore, one would think, should have been the more fertile) were thin and poor, so that the husbandman had no occasion to hire harvest people to reap his corn, nor teams to carry it home, for he could be scarcely said to have any.

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume IV (Isaiah to Malachi)

  • For four years Neil Bonner's mind had lain fallow.

    THE STORY OF JEES UCK

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Comments

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  • "There were times to think, and times to lie fallow. Today was a fallow day."-Dead as a Doornail, by Charlaine Harris

    May 19, 2011

  • letting my mind lie fallow for a while

    January 23, 2009