the producing of offspring.
the improvement or development of breeds of livestock, as by selective mating and hybridization.
Horticulture. the production of new forms by selection, crossing, and hybridizing.
training; nurture: He is a man of good breeding.
the result of upbringing or training as shown in behavior and manners; manners, especially good manners: You can tell when a person has breeding.
Energy. the production in a nuclear reactor of more fissile material than is consumed.

Origin of breeding

Middle English word dating back to 1250–1300; see origin at breed, -ing1
Related formsnon·breed·ing, adjective, noun



verb (used with object), bred, breed·ing.

to produce (offspring); procreate; engender.
to produce by mating; propagate sexually; reproduce: Ten mice were bred in the laboratory.
  1. to cause to reproduce by controlled pollination.
  2. to improve by controlled pollination and selection.
to raise (cattle, sheep, etc.): He breeds longhorns on the ranch.
to cause or be the source of; engender; give rise to: Dirt breeds disease. Stagnant water breeds mosquitoes.
to develop by training or education; bring up; rear: He was born and bred a gentleman.
Energy. to produce more fissile nuclear fuel than is consumed in a reactor.
to impregnate; mate: Breed a strong mare with a fast stallion and hope for a Derby winner.

verb (used without object), bred, breed·ing.

to produce offspring: Many animals breed in the spring.
to be engendered or produced; grow; develop: Bacteria will not breed in alcohol.
to cause the birth of young, as in raising stock.
to be pregnant.


Genetics. a relatively homogenous group of animals within a species, developed and maintained by humans.
lineage; stock; strain: She comes from a fine breed of people.
sort; kind; group: Scholars are a quiet breed.
Disparaging and Offensive. half-breed(def 1).

Origin of breed

before 1000; Middle English breden, Old English brēdan to nourish (cognate with Old High German bruotan, German brüten); noun use from 16th century
Related formsbreed·a·ble, adjectiveo·ver·breed, verb (used with object), o·ver·bred, o·ver·breed··breed, verb, re·bred, re·breed·ing.sub·breed, noun

Synonyms for breed Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for breeding

Contemporary Examples of breeding

Historical Examples of breeding

  • The improvement in breeding and raising live-stock must not be omitted.

    The Nation in a Nutshell

    George Makepeace Towle

  • It is only in the begetting of men that breeding from the worst stocks may be said to be the rule.

    The Truth About Woman

    C. Gasquoine Hartley

  • Pray be seated, but really I am forgetting the commonest rules of breeding.

    Vivian Grey

    Earl of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli

  • Her ignorance of all breeding is amusing, but then I think she has a natural elegance.

    Vivian Grey

    Earl of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli

  • Is not the quality of dogs improved by breeding from the good and eliminating the bad?

British Dictionary definitions for breeding



the process of bearing offspring; reproduction
the process of producing plants or animals by sexual reproduction
the result of good training, esp the knowledge of correct social behaviour; refinementa man of breeding
a person's line of descenthis breeding was suspect
physics a process occurring in a nuclear reactor as a result of which more fissionable material is produced than is used up


verb breeds, breeding or bred

to bear (offspring)
(tr) to bring up; raise
to produce or cause to produce by mating; propagate
to produce and maintain new or improved strains of (domestic animals and plants)
to produce or be produced; generateto breed trouble; violence breeds in densely populated areas


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
a lineage or racea breed of Europeans
a kind, sort, or groupa special breed of hatred

Word Origin for breed

Old English brēdan, of Germanic origin; related to brood
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 breeding

late 14c., "hatching, incubation;" also "formation, development, growth," verbal noun from breed (v.). Meaning "good manners" is from 1590s.



Old English bredan "bring young to birth, carry," also "cherish, keep warm," from West Germanic *brodjan (cf. Old High German bruoten, German brüten "to brood, hatch"), from *brod- "fetus, hatchling," from PIE *bhreue- "burn, heat" (see brood (n.)). Original notion of the word was incubation, warming to hatch. Sense of "grow up, be reared" (in a clan, etc.) is late 14c. Related: Bred; breeding.



"race, lineage, stock" (originally of animals), 1550s, from breed (v.). Of persons, from 1590s. Meaning "kind, species" is from 1580s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

breeding in Science




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


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.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with breeding


see familiarity breeds contempt.

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