- a cereal grass, Avena sativa, cultivated for its edible seed.
- Usually oats. (used with a singular or plural verb) the seed of this plant, used as a food for humans and animals.
- any of several plants of the same genus, as the wild oat.
- Archaic. a musical pipe made of an oat straw.
- feel one's oats, Informal.
- to feel frisky or lively.
- to be aware of and use one's importance or power.
- sow one's wild oats. wild oat(def 3).
Origin of oat
Examples from the Web for oats
Oatmeal is made with extra-thick-cut Snoqualmie Falls oats, which pack a deep-roasted flavor.Spaghetti for Breakfast?! Not So Crazy at This Idaho Farm Café
Jane & Michael Stern
August 4, 2014
In their unadulterated form, oats are pretty much free of simple sugars.
Call them Trojan horse foods: nutritiously pleasing ingredients (oats, yogurts) that conceal a whole host of junk.
Stir in the oats, nuts, coconut, and the flour mixture, do not overmix.Foods That We Love But Shouldn’t
July 15, 2011
In sum, many Chinese leaders, businessmen and youth are feeling their oats.Obama's China Summit Woes
Leslie H. Gelb
January 16, 2011
The boy might find it if you put it among the oats—feedin' the horses, ye know.In the Midst of Alarms
Some had all the venison and bear meat they wanted, but no barley or oats.Welsh Fairy Tales
William Elliott Griffis
I have seen barley and oats in that country three feet high.The History of Louisiana
Le Page Du Pratz
The lad's hair was inclined to be carroty, while that of the girl suggested the color of oats.
Why, one might bury millions there without reaping a single bushel of oats!
- an erect annual grass, Avena sativa, grown in temperate regions for its edible seed
- (usually plural) the seeds or fruits of this grass
- any of various other grasses of the genus Avena, such as the wild oat
- poetic a flute made from an oat straw
- feel one's oats US and Canadian informal
- to feel exuberant
- to feel self-important
- get one's oats slang to have sexual intercourse
- sow one's oats or sow one's wild oats to indulge in adventure or promiscuity during youth
Word Origin and History for oats
Old English ate (plural atan) "grain of the oat plant, wild oats," of uncertain origin, possibly from Old Norse eitill "nodule," denoting a single grain, of unknown origin. The English word has cognates in Frisian and some Dutch dialects. Famously defined by Johnson as, "A grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people."
The usual Germanic name is derived from Proto-Germanic *khabran (cf. Old Norse hafri, Dutch haver, source of haversack). Wild oats, "crop that one will regret sowing," is first attested 1560s, in reference to the folly of sowing these instead of good grain.
That wilfull and vnruly age, which lacketh rypenes and discretion, and (as wee saye) hath not sowed all theyr wyeld Oates. [Thomas Newton, "Lemnie's Touchstone of complexions," 1576]
Fred Sanford: I still want to sow some wild oats!
Lamont Sanford: At your age, you don't have no wild oats, you got shredded wheat.
["Sanford and Son"]
Hence, to feel (one's) oats "be lively," 1831, originally American English.
Idioms and Phrases with oats
see feel one's oats; sow one's wild oats.