View synonyms for breed


[ breed ]

verb (used with object)

, bred, breed·ing.
  1. to produce (offspring); procreate; engender.

    Synonyms: generate, bear, beget

  2. to produce by mating; propagate sexually; reproduce:

    Ten mice were bred in the laboratory.

    Synonyms: generate, bear, beget

  3. Horticulture.
    1. to cause to reproduce by controlled pollination.
    2. to improve by controlled pollination and selection.
  4. to raise (cattle, sheep, etc.):

    He breeds longhorns on the ranch.

  5. to cause or be the source of; engender; give rise to:

    Dirt breeds disease. Stagnant water breeds mosquitoes.

    Synonyms: develop, induce, produce, foster, occasion, promote

  6. to develop by training or education; bring up; rear:

    He was born and bred a gentleman.

  7. Energy. to produce more fissile nuclear fuel than is consumed in a reactor.
  8. to impregnate; mate:

    Breed a strong mare with a fast stallion and hope for a Derby winner.

verb (used without object)

, bred, breed·ing.
  1. to produce offspring:

    Many animals breed in the spring.

  2. to be engendered or produced; grow; develop:

    Bacteria will not breed in alcohol.

  3. to cause the birth of young, as in raising stock.
  4. to be pregnant.


  1. Genetics. a relatively homogenous group of animals within a species, developed and maintained by humans.
  2. lineage; stock; strain:

    She comes from a fine breed of people.

    Synonyms: line, pedigree, family

  3. sort; kind; group:

    Scholars are a quiet breed.

  4. Disparaging and Offensive. half-breed ( def 1 ).


/ briːd /


  1. to bear (offspring)
  2. tr to bring up; raise
  3. to produce or cause to produce by mating; propagate
  4. to produce and maintain new or improved strains of (domestic animals and plants)
  5. to produce or be produced; generate

    violence breeds in densely populated areas

    to breed trouble


  1. a group of organisms within a species, esp a group of domestic animals, originated and maintained by man and having a clearly defined set of characteristics
  2. a lineage or race

    a breed of Europeans

  3. a kind, sort, or group

    a special breed of hatred


/ brēd /


  1. To produce or reproduce by giving birth or hatching.
  2. To raise animals or plants, often to produce new or improved types.


  1. A group of organisms having common ancestors and sharing certain traits that are not shared with other members of the same species. Breeds are usually produced by mating selected parents.

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Other Words From

  • breeda·ble adjective
  • over·breed verb (used with object) overbred overbreeding
  • re·breed verb rebred rebreeding
  • subbreed noun

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Word History and Origins

Origin of breed1

before 1000; Middle English breden, Old English brēdan to nourish (cognate with Old High German bruotan, German brüten ); noun use from 16th century

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Word History and Origins

Origin of breed1

Old English brēdan , of Germanic origin; related to brood

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Idioms and Phrases

see familiarity breeds contempt .

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Example Sentences

No, those dogs were trained to do that behavior, wouldn’t naturally have done that behavior, and there was nothing about the breed which is different.

Brazil’s herds are dominated by Nelore, a hardy breed that lacks the carcass and meat quality of breeds like Angus but can withstand high heat and humidity.

Holstein cattle, which almost always carry horned genes, are highly productive dairy cows, so using conventional breeding to introduce hornless genes from less productive breeds can compromise the Holstein’s productivity.

Scientists will have to look at the methylomes of different dog breeds to see if they differ.

This mathematical exercise gives an objective and seemingly precise number for the genetic contribution from each breed.

The attempt to “breed back” the Auroch of Teutonic legend was of a piece with the Nazi obsession with racial purity and eugenics.

A male and female who do most of the mating dominate packs, and younger subordinates only breed occasionally.

They seem to be a slightly different breed from those in New York or London.

Perhaps, once in awhile, scarcity will breed rational thinking, too.

And I am truly preserving something unique because those garments are like a dying breed.

He was a new breed, that parson, a genuwine no-two-alike, come-one-in-a-box kind.

When Mac started Gregory back he told him that we would be along presently, then sat himself down on a rock and watched the breed.

But such a thing as happened this morning must breed doubts and suspicions in a woman who has had the experience I have had.

None breed, however, in Guernsey itself, or in any of the little rocky islands immediately surrounding it.

It stays on through the winter, but never remains to breed as it does regularly at Lundy Island.


Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.