View synonyms for horse


[ hawrs ]


, plural hors·es, (especially collectively) horse.
  1. a large, solid-hoofed, herbivorous quadruped, Equus caballus, domesticated since prehistoric times, bred in a number of varieties, and used for carrying or pulling loads, for riding, and for racing.
  2. a fully mature male animal of this type; stallion.
  3. any of several perissodactyls belonging to the family Equidae, including the horse, zebra, donkey, and ass, having a thick, flat coat with a narrow mane along the back of the neck and bearing the weight on only one functioning digit, the third, which is widened into a round or spade-shaped hoof.
  4. something on which a person rides, sits, or exercises, as if astride the back of such an animal:

    rocking horse.

  5. Also called trestle. a frame, block, etc., with legs, on which something is mounted or supported.
  6. Gymnastics.
  7. Carpentry. carriage ( def 7 ).
  8. soldiers serving on horseback; cavalry:

    a thousand horse.

  9. Slang. a man; fellow.
  10. Often horses. Informal. horsepower.
  11. horses, Slang. the power or capacity to accomplish something, as by having enough money, personnel, or expertise:

    Our small company doesn't have the horses to compete against a giant corporation.

  12. Chess Informal. a knight.
  13. Slang. a crib, translation, or other illicit aid to a student's recitation; trot; pony.
  14. Mining. a mass of rock enclosed within a lode or vein.
  15. Shipbuilding. a mold of a curved frame, especially one used when the complexity of the curves requires laying out at full size.
  16. Slang. heroin.

verb (used with object)

, horsed, hors·ing.
  1. to provide with a horse or horses.
  2. to set on horseback.
  3. to set or carry on a person's back or on one's own back.
  4. Carpentry. to cut notches for steps into (a carriage beam).
  5. to move with great physical effort or force:

    It took three men to horse the trunk up the stairs.

  6. Slang.
    1. to make (a person) the target of boisterous jokes.
    2. to perform boisterously, as a part or a scene in a play.
  7. Nautical.
    1. to caulk (a vessel) with a hammer.
    2. to work or haze (a sailor) cruelly or unfairly.
  8. Archaic. to place (someone) on a person's back, in order to be flogged.

verb (used without object)

, horsed, hors·ing.
  1. to mount or go on a horse.
  2. (of a mare) to be in heat.
  3. Vulgar. to have sexual intercourse.


  1. of, for, or pertaining to a horse or horses:

    the horse family; a horse blanket.

  2. drawn or powered by a horse or horses.
  3. mounted or serving on horses:

    horse troops.

  4. unusually large.

verb phrase

  1. Slang. to fool around; indulge in horseplay.


/ hɔːs /


  1. a domesticated perissodactyl mammal, Equus caballus, used for draught work and riding: family Equidae equine
  2. the adult male of this species; stallion
  3. wild horse
    1. a horse ( Equus caballus ) that has become feral
    2. another name for Przewalski's horse
    1. any other member of the family Equidae, such as the zebra or ass
    2. ( as modifier )

      the horse family

  4. functioning as plural horsemen, esp cavalry

    a regiment of horse

  5. a narrow board supported by a pair of legs at each end, used as a frame for sawing or as a trestle, barrier, etc
  6. a contrivance on which a person may ride and exercise
  7. a slang word for heroin
  8. mining a mass of rock within a vein of ore
  9. nautical a rod, rope, or cable, fixed at the ends, along which something may slide by means of a thimble, shackle, or other fitting; traveller
  10. chess an informal name for knight
  11. informal.
    short for horsepower
  12. modifier drawn by a horse or horses

    a horse cart

  13. a horse of another colour or a horse of a different colour
    a completely different topic, argument, etc
  14. be on one's high horse or get on one's high horse informal.
    to be disdainfully aloof
  15. flog a dead horse
    See flog
  16. hold one's horses
    to hold back; restrain oneself
  17. horses for courses
    a policy, course of action, etc modified slightly to take account of specific circumstances without departing in essentials from the original
  18. the horse's mouth
    the most reliable source
  19. to horse!
    an order to mount horses


  1. tr to provide with a horse or horses
  2. to put or be put on horseback
  3. tr to move (something heavy) into position by sheer physical strength

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Derived Forms

  • ˈhorseˌlike, adjective
  • ˈhorseless, adjective

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Other Words From

  • horse·less adjective
  • horse·like adjective
  • un·der·horse verb (used with object) underhorsed underhorsing

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Word History and Origins

Origin of horse1

First recorded before 900; Middle English, Old English noun hors; cognate with Old Norse hross, Dutch ros, German Ross ( Middle High German ros, Old High German hros ), from Germanic horso-, perhaps from the same Proto-Indo-European root that is the source of Latin currere “to run” (from unattested cursere ); Middle English horsen “to provide with horses,” Old English horsian, derivative of the noun

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Word History and Origins

Origin of horse1

Old English hors; related to Old Frisian hors, Old High German hros, Old Norse hross

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. To horse! Mount your horse! Ride!
  2. back the wrong horse, to be mistaken in judgment, especially in backing a losing candidate.
  3. beat / flog a dead horse, to attempt to revive a discussion, topic, or idea that has waned, been exhausted, or proved fruitless.
  4. from the horse's mouth, Informal. on good authority; from the original or a trustworthy source:

    I have it straight from the horse's mouth that the boss is retiring.

  5. hold one's horses, Informal. to check one's impulsiveness; be patient or calm:

    Hold your horses! I'm almost ready.

  6. horse of another color, something entirely different. Also horse of a different color.
  7. look a gift horse in the mouth, to be critical of a gift.

More idioms and phrases containing horse

  • back the wrong horse
  • beat a dead horse
  • cart before the horse
  • change horses in midstream
  • charley horse
  • dark horse
  • eat like a bird (horse)
  • from the horse's mouth
  • hold one's horses
  • if wishes were horses
  • look a gift horse in the mouth
  • on one's high horse
  • war horse
  • wild horses couldn't drag
  • work like a beaver (horse)
  • you can lead a horse to water

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Example Sentences

The bill also includes apparent safety measures that I consider Trojan horses because they would allow the government to surveil users.

I found that the press was usually more interested in drama among Democrats, the kind of blow-by-blow, the horse race.

From Ozy

Of course, Main Street investors, for the most part, can’t afford to throw down millions of dollars for a race horse, classic car, or art piece.

From Fortune

In 1984, a prize horse owned by the president of Deston Fearing, a Minnesota-based animal identification company, was stolen.

From Ozy

Dark-horse candidates include current foreign minister Toshimitsu Motegi and defense minister Taro Kono.

From Fortune

I mean, the reality of it was, I had to go out and get on a horse, and ride in, shoot the gun — how hard was that, right?

The poet apparently collapsed in the street upon his departure from “The Horse” and died not long after.

The Horse You Came in On Saloon, Baltimore Horse-themed bars must be bad luck for famous authors.

That tweet came from Shay Horse, whose bio lists him as an independent photojournalist with ties to Occupy Wall Street.

And the budget provides $697,000 to the “Horse Protection Act of 1970.”

At the mention of the Merrill Horse, Poindexter's countenance took on a demoniac expression.

But you are mistaken in thinking the force west consists of the entire Merrill Horse.

It was at this parliament that the famous acts against horse racing and deceitful gaming were passed.

Four years ago Hetton's horse had been first favourite, but it was ignominiously beaten.

As the window dropped, Ripperda saw the wounded postilion fall on the neck of his horse.


Related Words

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More About Horse

Where does the word horse come from?

A horse is a horse, of course, of course. And that’s basically true, etymologically speaking, too.

Horse comes from the Old English hors. The word has many cousins in Germanic languages, and might come from an ancient root meaning “to run.” If that’s the case—then of course!

At the same time, that Old English hors has no relation to hors d’oeuvre, French for “outside the main course.”

And the word hoarse, meaning “having harsh or husky sound,” is a homonym of horse. While the words sound the same and are nearly spelled the same, they have different histories.  

Now that you know how horses got their name, why not find out how some of our other most beloved pets got theirs in the slideshow: “Where Do The Words For Our Pets Come From?”

Did you know … ?

Humans domesticated horses, the quintessential riding animal, at least 6,000 years ago. Horses have had a gigantic impact on civilization, used for travel, food cultivation, sport, warfare, and many other functions.

The impact of horses on humans is evident in the English language, too. The word has been applied to everything from gymnastics (e.g., pommel horse) to carpentry (sawhorse) to chess (the knight piece) to various informal terms (horse as slang for “man, fellow”) and expressions, e.g., healthy as a horse and I’m so hungry, I could eat a horse.

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.




hors d'oeuvrehorse-and-buggy