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verb (used without object), grazed, graz·ing.
  1. to feed on growing grass and pasturage, as do cattle, sheep, etc.
  2. Informal. to eat small portions of food, as appetizers or the like, in place of a full-sized meal or to snack during the course of the day in place of regular meals.
verb (used with object), grazed, graz·ing.
  1. to feed on (growing grass).
  2. to put cattle, sheep, etc., to feed on (grass, pastureland, etc.).
  3. to tend (cattle, sheep, etc.) while they are at pasture.

Origin of graze1

before 1000; Middle English grasen, Old English grasian, derivative of græs grass
Related formsgraze·a·ble, adjectivegraz·er, noun


verb (used with object), grazed, graz·ing.
  1. to touch or rub lightly in passing.
  2. to scrape the skin from; abrade: The bullet just grazed his shoulder.
verb (used without object), grazed, graz·ing.
  1. to touch or rub something lightly, or so as to produce slight abrasion, in passing: to graze against a rough wall.
  1. a touching or rubbing lightly in passing.
  2. a slight scratch, scrape, or wound made in passing; abrasion.

Origin of graze2

1595–1605; perhaps special use of graze1; for the semantic shift compare French effleurer, derivative of fleur flower, in the same meaning
Related formsgraz·er, noungraz·ing·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for graze


  1. to allow (animals) to consume the vegetation on (an area of land), or (of animals, esp cows and sheep) to feed thus
  2. (tr) to tend (livestock) while at pasture
  3. informal to eat snacks throughout the day rather than formal meals
  4. Southern African informal to eat
  5. (intr) informal to switch between television channels while viewing without watching any channel for long
  6. US to pilfer and eat sweets, vegetables, etc, from supermarket shelves while shopping
  1. Southern African informal a snack; something to eat

Word Origin

Old English grasian, from græs grass; related to Old High German grasōn, Dutch grazen, Norwegian grasa


  1. (when intr, often foll by against or along) to brush or scrape (against) gently, esp in passing
  2. (tr) to break the skin of (a part of the body) by scraping
  1. the act of grazing
  2. a scrape or abrasion made by grazing
Derived Formsgrazer, noungrazingly, adverb

Word Origin

C17: probably special use of graze 1; related to Swedish gräsa
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 graze


"to feed," Old English grasian "to feed on grass," from græs "grass" (see grass). Cf. Middle Dutch, Middle High German grasen, Dutch grazen, German grasen. Figurative use by 1570s. Related: Grazed; grazing.


"to touch," c.1600, perhaps a transferred sense from graze (v.1) via a notion of cropping grass right down to the ground (cf. German grasen "to feed on grass," used in military sense in reference to cannonballs that rebound off the ground). Related: Grazed; grazing. As a noun from 1690s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper