[ far-oh ]
/ ˈfær oʊ /
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a litter of pigs.
verb (used with object)
(of swine) to bring forth (young).
verb (used without object)
to produce a litter of pigs.
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Origin of farrow

First recorded before 900; Middle English farwen “to give birth to a litter of pigs,” derivative of Old English fearh “pig” (cognate with Latin porcus ); akin to German Ferkel “young pig”

Other definitions for farrow (2 of 2)

[ far-oh ]
/ ˈfær oʊ /

(of a cow) not pregnant.

Origin of farrow

1485–95; akin to Dutch dialect verwe- (in verwekoe barren cow), Old English fearr ox
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does farrow mean?

A farrow is a litter of piglets. Farrow can also be used as a verb meaning (for a mother pig) to produce a litter of piglets.

Unrelatedly, farrow can also be used as an adjective describing a cow that is not pregnant in a given year—one year a cow may have baby cows, and the next year it may be farrow.

Example: Three of our sows successfully farrowed—each had a farrow of 12 piglets.

Where does farrow come from?

The first records of farrow in reference to pigs come from before the 900s. It comes from the Old English fearh, meaning “pig.” The first records of farrow in reference to cows comes from the late 1400s. That term is related to the Old English fearr, meaning “ox.” Despite their similarity, there’s no apparent connection between the terms.

Farrow is most commonly used in reference to pregnant pigs and litters of piglets. A sow (an adult female pig) that is pregnant can be said to in farrow. Pig farmers sometimes have special farrowing barns where sows can give birth. In a single year, a sow can give birth to as many as three farrows (litters). As a verb, farrow can be used with an object (as in The sow farrowed 11 piglets) or without one (as in Two of the sows are ready to farrow).

When farrow is an adjective applied to cows, it indicates the opposite situation: a farrow cow is one that is not calving (giving births to calves).

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to farrow?

  • farrowing (adjective, continuous tense verb)
  • nonfarrowing (adjective)

What are some synonyms for farrow?

What are some words that often get used in discussing farrow?


What are some words farrow may be commonly confused with?


How is farrow used in real life?

Farrow is typically used as part of the jargon of pig farming and breeding.



Try using farrow!

Is farrow used correctly in the following sentence? 

The chicken farrowed three eggs.

How to use farrow in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for farrow (1 of 2)

/ (ˈfærəʊ) /

a litter of piglets
(of a sow) to give birth to (a litter)

Word Origin for farrow

Old English fearh; related to Old High German farah young pig, Latin porcus pig, Greek porkos

British Dictionary definitions for farrow (2 of 2)

/ (ˈfærəʊ) /

(of a cow) not calving in a given year

Word Origin for farrow

C15: from Middle Dutch verwe- (unattested) cow that has ceased to bear; compare Old English fearr ox
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