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

  • n. Any of various usually horned ruminant mammals of the genus Ovis in the family Bovidae, especially the domesticated species O. aries, raised in many breeds for wool, edible flesh, or skin.
  • n. Leather made from the skin of one of these animals.
  • n. A person regarded as timid, weak, or submissive.
  • n. One who is easily swayed or led.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Any one of several species of ruminants of the genus Ovis, native of the higher mountains of both hemispheres, but most numerous in Asia.
  • n. A weak, bashful, silly fellow.
  • n. Fig.: The people of God, as being under the government and protection of Christ, the great Shepherd.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To pasture sheep upon; use as a sheep-range.
  • n. 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.
  • n. Leather made from sheepskin, especially split leather used in bookbinding.
  • n. In contempt, a silly fellow.
  • n. A shepherd.

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

  • n. woolly usually horned ruminant mammal related to the goat
  • n. a timid defenseless simpleton who is readily preyed upon
  • n. 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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  • "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

  • 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