Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The part of a horse's foot between the fetlock and hoof.
  • noun An analogous part of the leg of a dog or other quadruped.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun That part of a dog's foot just above the toes, or the metacarpals and metatarsals. Anatomically this corresponds to the palm of the hand and solo of the foot in man, or to the cannon-bone in a horse.
  • noun The part of a horse's foot which corresponds to the extent of the pastern-bones. more particularly of the great pastern-bone, which occupies most of the extent between the fetlock-joint and the coronet of the hoof.
  • noun A shackle placed on a horse's pastern while pasturing; a hobble or hobbles; a clog; a tether.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The part of the foot of the horse, and allied animals, between the fetlock and the coffin joint. See Illust. of horse.
  • noun the joint in the hoof of the horse, and allied animals, between the great and small pastern bones.
  • noun A shackle for horses while pasturing.
  • noun obsolete A patten.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The area on a horse's leg between the fetlock joint and the hoof.
  • noun obsolete A shackle for horses while pasturing.
  • noun obsolete A patten.

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

  • noun the part between the fetlock and the hoof

Etymologies

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

[Alteration of Middle English pastron, hobble, pastern, from Old French pasturon, diminutive of pasture, pasture, tether, alteration of *pastoire, from Latin pāstōria, feminine sing. of pāstōrius, of herdsmen, from pāstor, shepherd; see pastor.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French pasturon (French pâturon), from pasture ‘shackle’ (from Latin pastoria ‘shackle for pastured animal's foot’) + diminutive suffix.

Examples

  • It was here that he made that frank and truly original confession, that 'ignorance, pure ignorance,' was the cause of a wrong definition in his Dictionary of the word pastern, to the no small surprise of the Lady who put the question to him; who having the most profound reverence for his character, so as almost to suppose him endowed with infallibility, expected to hear an explanation

    Boswell's Life of Johnson Abridged and edited, with an introduction by Charles Grosvenor Osgood

  • It was here that he made that frank and truly original confession, that ‘ignorance, pure ignorance,’ was the cause of a wrong definition in his Dictionary of the word pastern, to the no small surprise of the Lady who put the question to him; who having the most profound reverence for his character, so as almost to suppose him endowed with infallibility, expected to hear an explanation (of what, to be sure, seemed strange to a common reader,) drawn from some deep-learned source with which she was unacquainted.

    The Life of Samuel Johnson LL.D.

  • It was here that he made that frank and truly original confession, that 'ignorance, pure ignorance,' was the cause of a wrong definition in his Dictionary of the word pastern [4], to the no small surprise of the Lady who put the question to him; who having the most profound reverence for his character, so as almost to suppose him endowed with infallibility, expected to hear an explanation (of what, to be sure, seemed strange to a common reader,) drawn from some deep-learned source with which she was unacquainted.

    Life Of Johnson

  • It is true that even the great Dr. Johnson defined the word pastern as 'the knee of an horse,' an anatomical inexactitude which would produce on an ostler the same kind of paralytic shock that a sailor might experience on finding in the same famous work leeward and windward described in identical terms as 'toward the wind.'

    On Dictionaries

  • Once a lady asked him how he came to say that the pastern was the knee of a horse, and he calmly replied, "Ignorance, madam, pure ignorance."

    English Literature for Boys and Girls

  • It is true that even the great Dr. Johnson defined the word pastern as 'the knee of an horse,' an anatomical inexactitude which would produce on an ostler the same kind of paralytic shock that a sailor might experience on finding in the same famous work leeward and windward described in identical terms as 'toward the wind.'

    On Dictionaries

  • Gurney added that the angle of the pastern is a fine line.

    TheHorse.com News

  • When Doctor Johnson was inquired of by a lady why he defined "pastern" in his Dictionary as the knee of a horse, he replied, "Ignorance, madam, pure ignorance;" and if Hawthorne had been asked a year afterwards why he went to Scotland in the summer of 1857, instead of to the Rhine and Switzerland, he might have given a similar excuse.

    The Life and Genius of Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • The "pastern," "coronary," and "coffin" bones of veterinarians answer to the joints of our middle fingers, while the hoof is simply a greatly enlarged and thickened nail.

    American Addresses, with a Lecture on the Study of Biology

  • The "pastern," "coronary," and "coffin" bones of veterinarians answer to the joints of our middle fingers, while the hoof is simply a greatly enlarged and thickened nail.

    Lectures and Essays

Comments

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  • Citation on withers.

    July 4, 2008

  • "Chief among Dan's many leg ailments, said Markey (who had obviously been talking to Hersey, though the trainer was not quoted directly) was 'swelling and pain in his left hind pastern and ankle.' The pastern—the bone that connects the hoof and fetlock—'has dropped about an inch and Hersey fears that further attempts to train him will cause a permanent breakdown.'"

    —Charles Leerhsen, Crazy Good: The True Story of Dan Patch (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008), 316

    October 28, 2008