[ hawrs ]
See synonyms for: horsehorsedhorses on

noun,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.

  1. 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.

  2. something on which a person rides, sits, or exercises, as if astride the back of such an animal: rocking horse.

  3. Also called trestle. a frame, block, etc., with legs, on which something is mounted or supported.

  4. Gymnastics.

  5. Carpentry. carriage (def. 7).

  6. soldiers serving on horseback; cavalry: a thousand horse.

  7. Slang. a man; fellow.

  8. Often horses. Informal. horsepower.

  9. 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.

  10. Chess Informal. a knight.

  11. Slang. a crib, translation, or other illicit aid to a student's recitation; trot; pony.

  12. Mining. a mass of rock enclosed within a lode or vein.

  13. Nautical. traveler (def. 6b).

  14. Shipbuilding. a mold of a curved frame, especially one used when the complexity of the curves requires laying out at full size.

  15. Slang. heroin.

verb (used with object),horsed, hors·ing.
  1. to provide with a horse or horses.

  2. to set on horseback.

  1. to set or carry on a person's back or on one's own back.

  2. Carpentry. to cut notches for steps into (a carriage beam).

  3. to move with great physical effort or force: It took three men to horse the trunk up the stairs.

  4. Slang.

    • to make (a person) the target of boisterous jokes.

    • to perform boisterously, as a part or a scene in a play.

  5. Nautical.

    • to caulk (a vessel) with a hammer.

    • to work or haze (a sailor) cruelly or unfairly.

  6. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. mounted or serving on horses: horse troops.

  2. unusually large.

Verb Phrases
  1. horse around, Slang. to fool around; indulge in horseplay.

Idioms about horse

  1. back the wrong horse, to be mistaken in judgment, especially in backing a losing candidate.

  2. beat / flog a dead horse, to attempt to revive a discussion, topic, or idea that has waned, been exhausted, or proved fruitless.

  1. 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.

  2. hold one's horses, Informal. to check one's impulsiveness; be patient or calm: Hold your horses! I'm almost ready.

  3. horse of another color, something entirely different.: Also horse of a different color.

  4. look a gift horse in the mouth, to be critical of a gift.

  5. To horse! Mount your horse! Ride!

Origin of horse

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

Other words from horse

  • horseless, adjective
  • horselike, adjective
  • un·der·horse, verb (used with object), un·der·horsed, un·der·hors·ing.

Words that may be confused with horse Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use horse in a sentence

  • When we'd finished, one of the hunters rounded up the horses and we caught our nags and saddled them.

    Raw Gold | Bertrand W. Sinclair
  • We had six field-pieces, but we only took four, harnessed wit twice the usual number of horses.

  • When she arrived she made a regular entry into the city in a coach all gold and glass, drawn by eight superb plumed horses.

  • If Mac had been alone he would have made the post by sundown, for the Mounted Police rode picked horses, the best money could buy.

    Raw Gold | Bertrand W. Sinclair
  • Our talk ranged from the Panhandle to the Canada line, while our horses jogged steadily southward.

    Raw Gold | Bertrand W. Sinclair

British Dictionary definitions for horse


/ (hɔːs) /

  1. a domesticated perissodactyl mammal, Equus caballus, used for draught work and riding: family Equidae: Related adjective: equine

  2. the adult male of this species; stallion

  1. wild horse

    • any other member of the family Equidae, such as the zebra or ass

    • (as modifier): the horse family

  2. (functioning as plural) horsemen, esp cavalry: a regiment of horse

  3. a narrow board supported by a pair of legs at each end, used as a frame for sawing or as a trestle, barrier, etc

  4. a contrivance on which a person may ride and exercise

  5. a slang word for heroin

  6. mining a mass of rock within a vein of ore

  7. 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

  8. chess an informal name for knight

  9. informal short for horsepower

  10. (modifier) drawn by a horse or horses: a horse cart

  11. a horse of another colour or a horse of a different colour a completely different topic, argument, etc

  12. be on one's high horse or get on one's high horse informal to be disdainfully aloof

  13. flog a dead horse See flog (def. 6)

  14. hold one's horses to hold back; restrain oneself

  15. horses for courses a policy, course of action, etc modified slightly to take account of specific circumstances without departing in essentials from the original

  16. the horse's mouth the most reliable source

  17. to horse! an order to mount horses

  1. (tr) to provide with a horse or horses

  2. to put or be put on horseback

  1. (tr) to move (something heavy) into position by sheer physical strength

Origin of horse

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

Derived forms of horse

  • horseless, adjective
  • horselike, adjective

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with horse


In addition to the idioms beginning with horse

  • horse around
  • horse of a different color, a
  • horse sense
  • horse trading

also see:

  • 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

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