verb (used with object), mowed, mowed or mown, mow·ing.

to cut down (grass, grain, etc.) with a scythe or a machine.
to cut grass, grain, etc., from: to mow the lawn.

verb (used without object), mowed, mowed or mown, mow·ing.

to cut down grass, grain, etc.

Verb Phrases

mow down,
  1. to destroy or kill indiscriminately or in great numbers, as troops in battle.
  2. to defeat, overwhelm, or overcome: The team mowed down its first four opponents.
  3. to knock down.

Origin of mow

before 900; Middle English mowen, Old English māwan; cognate with German mähen




the place in a barn where hay, sheaves of grain, etc., are stored.
a heap or pile of hay or of sheaves of grain in a barn.

verb (used with object)

Chiefly Northern and North Midland U.S. to store (hay) in a barn.

Origin of mow

before 900; Middle English mow(e), Old English mūwa, mūha, mūga; cognate with Old Norse mūgi swath



or mowe

[mou, moh]Archaic.


a wry or derisive grimace.

verb (used without object)

to make mows, mouths, or grimaces.

Origin of mow

1275–1325; Middle English mowe < Middle French moue lip, pout, Old French moe < Frankish; akin to Middle Dutch mouwe protruded lip Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for mow

trim, shear, crop, clip, scythe, sickle

Examples from the Web for mow

Contemporary Examples of mow

Historical Examples of mow

  • What was St. Meuse to me that for her I should mow my hirsute glories?

  • If the ould Governor's got a tongue like a file, Philip's got a tongue like a scythe—he'll mow them down.

    The Manxman

    Hall Caine

  • There was hay in the mow and I had brought a bag of oats under the seat of the carriage.

    Rudder Grange

    Frank R. Stockton

  • The thrall who had spoken whetted his scythe with it and began to mow.

  • I would have been looking at it, too, if I hadn't had to mow the lawn and then go to the store.

    Jerry's Charge Account

    Hazel Hutchins Wilson

British Dictionary definitions for mow



verb mows, mowing, mowed, mowed or mown

to cut down (grass, crops, etc) with a hand implement or machine
(tr) to cut the growing vegetation of (a field, lawn, etc)
Derived Formsmower, noun

Word Origin for mow

Old English māwan; related to Old High German māen, Middle Dutch maeyen to mow, Latin metere to reap, Welsh medi




the part of a barn where hay, straw, etc, is stored
the hay, straw, etc, stored

Word Origin for mow

Old English mūwa; compare Old Norse mūgr heap, Greek mukōn



noun, verb

an archaic word for grimace

Word Origin for mow

C14: from Old French moe a pout, or Middle Dutch mouwe
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 mow

Old English mawan "to mow" (class VII strong verb; past tense meow, past participle mawen), from Proto-Germanic *mæanan (cf. Middle Low German maeyen, Dutch maaien, Old High German maen, German mähen "to mow," Old English mæd "meadow"), from PIE root *me- "to mow, to cut down grass or grain with a sickle or scythe" (cf. poetic Greek amao, Latin metere "to reap, mow, crop," Italian mietere, Old Irish meithleorai "reapers," Welsh medi). Related: Mowed; mown; mowing.


"stack of hay," Old English muga, muwa "a heap, swath of corn, crowd of people," earlier muha, from Proto-Germanic *mugon (cf. Old Norse mugr "a heap," mostr "crowd"), of uncertain origin.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper