- a U-shaped metal plate, plain or with calks, nailed to a horse's hoof to protect it from being injured by hard or rough surfaces.
- something U-shaped, as a valley, river bend, or other natural feature: We picnicked in the middle of a horseshoe of trees.
- horseshoes, (used with a singular verb) a game in which horseshoes or other U-shaped pieces of metal, plastic, etc., are tossed at an iron stake 30 or 40 feet (9 or 12 meters) away in order to encircle it or to come closer to it than one's opponent.
- to put a horseshoe or horseshoes on.
- having the shape of a horseshoe; U-shaped: a horseshoe bend in the river.
Origin of horseshoe
- (functioning as singular) a game in which the players try to throw horseshoes so that they encircle a stake in the ground some distance away
- a piece of iron shaped like a U with the ends curving inwards that is nailed to the underside of the hoof of a horse to protect the soft part of the foot from hard surfaces: commonly thought to be a token of good luck
- an object of similar shape
- (tr) to fit with a horseshoe; shoe
Word Origin and History for horseshoes
HORSE-SHOES, the game of coits, or quoits--because sometimes actually played with horse-shoes. [John Trotter Brockett, "A Glossary of North Country Words," 1829]
The belief that finding a horseshoe by chance is lucky is attested from late 14c., and the practice of nailing one above a doorway to prevent a witch entering therein was common in London down to c.1800. Of a type of bend in a river, 1770, American English. As a type of crab, from 1775.