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

  • The high part of the back of a horse or similar animal, located between the shoulder blades.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The part of the back of a draft animal or horse that is the highest, between the shoulder blades.
  • v. Third-person singular simple present indicative form of wither.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • The ridge between the shoulder bones of a horse, at the base of the neck. See Illust. of horse.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The highest part of the back of a horse, between the shoulderblades and behind the root of the neck, where the mane ceases to grow: as, a horse 15 hands high at the withers.
  • n. The barbs or flukes of a harpoon; the witters: so called by British whalemen.

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

  • n. the highest part of the back at the base of the neck of various animals especially draft animals


Possibly from obsolete wither-, against (from the strain exerted on them when a horse draws a load), from Middle English, from Old English.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
1580, from Old English dialectical wiðer ("against") +‎ -s; see with. So-named because the part of the horse that pushes against a load. Compare German Widerrist ("withers"), from wider ("against") + Rist ("wrist"). (Wiktionary)



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  • From "Au Tombeau de Charles Fourier" by Guy Davenport

    January 19, 2010

  • He gawped at rhe nag's pricked ears, large eye, dished profile, withers, mane, poll, forelock, muzzle, chin, cheek, shoulder, chest, forearm, knee, cannon, pastern, chestnut, brisket, elbow, belly, stifle, gaskin, coronet, wall of hoof, heel, fetlock, hock, thigh, buttock, dock, croup, loins, back.

    - Peter Reading, C, 1984

    July 4, 2008

  • "Our withers are unwrung." (usage note on unwrung)

    March 7, 2008