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

  • noun A domesticated ruminant mammal (Ovis aries) having a thick coat, raised in many breeds for its wool, edible flesh, or hide.
  • noun Any of various wild ruminant mammals related to and resembling the domestic sheep, such as the aoudad, bighorn sheep, and mouflon.
  • noun Leather made from the skin of one of these animals.
  • noun A person regarded as timid, weak, or submissive.
  • noun One who is easily swayed or led.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To pasture sheep upon; use as a sheep-range.
  • noun A shepherd.
  • noun A ruminant mammal of the family Bovidæ, subfamily Orinæ, and genus Ovis; specifically, Ovis aries, domesticated in many varieties, and one of the animals most useful to man.
  • noun Leather made from sheepskin, especially split leather used in bookbinding.
  • noun In contempt, a silly fellow.

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

  • noun (Zoöl.) Any one of several species of ruminants of the genus Ovis, native of the higher mountains of both hemispheres, but most numerous in Asia.
  • noun A weak, bashful, silly fellow.
  • noun Fig.: The people of God, as being under the government and protection of Christ, the great Shepherd.
  • noun (Zoöl.) See Bighorn.
  • noun (Zoöl.) See Aoudad.
  • noun (Zoöl.) the larva of the sheep botfly. See Estrus.
  • noun (Zoöl.) a shepherd dog, or collie.
  • noun (Bot.) a small North American shrub (Kalmia angustifolia) with deep rose-colored flowers in corymbs.
  • noun (Bot.) an Australian plant (Acæna ovina) related to the burnet. The fruit is covered with barbed spines, by which it adheres to the wool of sheep.
  • noun an extensive tract of country where sheep range and graze.
  • noun (Bot.) a cichoraceous herb (Urospermum Dalechampii) of Southern Europe; -- so called from the conspicuous pappus of the achenes.
  • noun (Bot.), a European herb (Jasione montana) having much the appearance of scabious.
  • noun (Med.) a contagious disease of sheep, characterixed by the development of vesicles or pocks upon the skin.
  • noun (Bot.) Same as Sheep's bit.
  • noun shears in which the blades form the two ends of a steel bow, by the elasticity of which they open as often as pressed together by the hand in cutting; -- so called because used to cut off the wool of sheep.
  • noun (Bot.) a prerennial herb (Rumex Acetosella) growing naturally on poor, dry, gravelly soil. Its leaves have a pleasant acid taste like sorrel.
  • noun (Zoöl.) the highest grade of Florida commercial sponges (Spongia equina, variety gossypina).
  • noun (Zoöl.) a wingless parasitic insect (Melophagus ovinus) belonging to the Diptera. It fixes its proboscis in the skin of the sheep and sucks the blood, leaving a swelling. Called also sheep pest, and sheep louse.
  • noun a pasture for sheep; a sheep run.
  • noun (Zoöl.) See Argali, Mouflon, and Oörial.

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

  • noun A woolly ruminant of the genus Ovis.
  • noun A timid, shy person who is easily led by others.
  • noun Plural form of shoop.

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

  • noun woolly usually horned ruminant mammal related to the goat
  • noun a timid defenseless simpleton who is readily preyed upon
  • noun a docile and vulnerable person who would rather follow than make an independent decision


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

[Middle English, from Old English scēap.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Old English scēap, from Proto-Germanic *skēpan (compare West Frisian skiep, North Frisian schäip (also Fering-Öömrang dialect sjep; Sölring dialect sjip; Heligoland dialect skeap), Dutch schaap, German Schaf), beside *keppôn (compare Old Norse kjappi ("he-goat"), German dialect Kippe ("newborn calf")), from Sarmato-Scythian (compare Ossetian цæу (cæw, "goat"), Persian چپش (čapiš, "yearling goat")). The same Iranian word was borrowed into Albanian cjap, sqap ("he-goat") and Slavic (cf. Polish cap).


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  • The only English animal name with zero plural that isn't some kind of hunt animal; also the only one that simply can't take a regular plural. (As always, this universals are subject to the fate of all linguistic universals, to be violated by hitherto unnoticed examples.)

    February 20, 2009

  • "Count sheep !" to go to sleep is probably the translation of a Hebrew pun S'PoR KeVeS on the Latin phrase *sopor* (sleep, as in soporific) *quies* (quietly, as in quiesent). This idiom now occurs in Israeli Hebrew as LiSPoR K'VaSim = to count sheep (plural).

    June 16, 2009