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  1. (of land) plowed and left unseeded for a season or more; uncultivated.
  2. not in use; inactive: My creative energies have lain fallow this year.
  1. land that has undergone plowing and harrowing and has been left unseeded for one or more growing seasons.
verb (used with object)
  1. to make (land) fallow for agricultural purposes.

Origin of fallow1

1275–1325; Middle English falwe; compare Old English fealga, plural of *fealh, as gloss of Medieval Latin occas harrows
Related formsfal·low·ness, nounun·fal·lowed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
British Dictionary definitions for fallowness


  1. (of land) left unseeded after being ploughed and harrowed to regain fertility for a crop
  2. (of an idea, state of mind, etc) undeveloped or inactive, but potentially useful
  1. land treated in this way
  1. (tr) to leave (land) unseeded after ploughing and harrowing it
Derived Formsfallowness, noun

Word Origin

Old English fealga; related to Greek polos ploughed field


  1. of a light yellowish-brown colour

Word Origin

Old English fealu; related to Old Norse fölr, Old Saxon, Old High German falo, Latin pallidus Greek polios grey
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for fallowness



c.1300, from Old English fealh "fallow land," from Proto-Germanic *falgo (cf. Old High German felga "harrow," German Felge "plowed-up fallow land," East Frisian falge "fallow," falgen "to break up ground"), perhaps from a derivation of PIE root *pel- "to turn," assimilated in English to fallow (adj.) because of the color of plowed earth. Originally "plowed land," then "land plowed but not planted" (1520s). As an adjective, from late 14c.



"pale yellow, brownish yellow," Old English fealu "reddish yellow, yellowish-brown, tawny, dusk-colored," from Proto-Germanic *falwa- (cf. Old Saxon falu, Old Norse fölr, Middle Dutch valu, Dutch vaal, Old High German falo, German falb), from PIE *pal-wo- "dark-colored, gray" (cf. Old Church Slavonic plavu, Lithuanian palvas "sallow;" Greek polios, Sanskrit palitah, Welsh llwyd "gray;" Latin pallere "to be pale"), from root *pal- (see pallor). It also forms the root of words for "pigeon" in Greek (peleia), Latin (palumbes), and Old Prussian (poalis).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper