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horseshoe

[hawrs-shoo, hawrsh-]
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noun
  1. a U-shaped metal plate, plain or with calks, nailed to a horse's hoof to protect it from being injured by hard or rough surfaces.
  2. something U-shaped, as a valley, river bend, or other natural feature: We picnicked in the middle of a horseshoe of trees.
  3. horseshoes, (used with a singular verb) a game in which horseshoes or other U-shaped pieces of metal, plastic, etc., are tossed at an iron stake 30 or 40 feet (9 or 12 meters) away in order to encircle it or to come closer to it than one's opponent.
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verb (used with object), horse·shoed, horse·shoe·ing.
  1. to put a horseshoe or horseshoes on.
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adjective
  1. having the shape of a horseshoe; U-shaped: a horseshoe bend in the river.
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Origin of horseshoe

1350–1400; Middle English. See horse, shoe
Related formshorse·sho·er, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for horseshoes

horseshoes

noun
  1. (functioning as singular) a game in which the players try to throw horseshoes so that they encircle a stake in the ground some distance away
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horseshoe

noun
  1. a piece of iron shaped like a U with the ends curving inwards that is nailed to the underside of the hoof of a horse to protect the soft part of the foot from hard surfaces: commonly thought to be a token of good luck
  2. an object of similar shape
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verb -shoes, -shoeing or -shoed
  1. (tr) to fit with a horseshoe; shoe
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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 horseshoes

horseshoe

n.

late 14c. (early 13c. as a proper name), from horse (n.) + shoe (n.). Horseshoes as another name for the game of quoits, attested by 1822.

HORSE-SHOES, the game of coits, or quoits--because sometimes actually played with horse-shoes. [John Trotter Brockett, "A Glossary of North Country Words," 1829]

The belief that finding a horseshoe by chance is lucky is attested from late 14c., and the practice of nailing one above a doorway to prevent a witch entering therein was common in London down to c.1800. Of a type of bend in a river, 1770, American English. As a type of crab, from 1775.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper