See more synonyms for pillow on Thesaurus.com
  1. a bag or case made of cloth that is filled with feathers, down, or other soft material, and is used to cushion the head during sleep or rest.
  2. anything used to cushion the head; headrest: a pillow of moss.
  3. Also called lace pillow. a hard cushion or pad that supports the pattern and threads in the making of bobbin lace.
  4. a supporting piece or part, as the block on which the inner end of a bowsprit rests.
verb (used with object)
  1. to rest on or as on a pillow.
  2. to support with pillows.
  3. to serve as a pillow for: She pillowed the child with her body.
verb (used without object)
  1. to rest as on a pillow.

Origin of pillow

before 900; Middle English pilwe, Old English pylu < Latin pulvīnus cushion (whence also German Pfühl)
Related formspil·low·less, adjectivepil·low·like, adjectiveun·pil·lowed, adjective
Can be confusedpillar pillory pillow

Synonym study

1. See cushion.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for pillow

padding, cushion, bolster, headrest

Examples from the Web for pillow

Contemporary Examples of pillow

Historical Examples of pillow

  • Her lips quivered, and a big tear rolled down on the pillow.

    The Little Colonel

    Annie Fellows Johnston

  • He turned on his pillow and glanced towards the dressing-table.

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine

  • Philip shook his head, and, displeased with his companion, sought his pillow.

    Night and Morning, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • And that was because a hand was being slipped cautiously, inch by inch, under my pillow.

    It Happened in Egypt

    C. N. Williamson

  • Colonel Woodville lowered his head upon the pillow and laughed softly.

    The Rock of Chickamauga

    Joseph A. Altsheler

British Dictionary definitions for pillow


  1. a cloth case stuffed with feathers, foam rubber, etc, used to support the head, esp during sleep
  2. Also called: cushion a padded cushion or board on which pillow lace is made
  3. anything like a pillow in shape or function
verb (tr)
  1. to rest (one's head) on or as if on a pillow
  2. to serve as a pillow for

Word Origin for pillow

Old English pylwe, from Latin pulvīnus cushion; compare German Pfühl
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 pillow

Middle English pilwe, from Old English pyle "pillow," from West Germanic *pulwi(n) (cf. Old Saxon puli, Middle Dutch polu, Dutch peluw, Old High German pfuliwi, German Pfühl), an early borrowing (2c. or 3c.) from Latin pulvinus "little cushion, small pillow," of uncertain origin. Modern spelling is from mid-15c. Pillow fight (n.) attested from 1837; slang pillow talk (n.) first recorded 1939.


1620s, from pillow (n.). Related: Pillowed; pillowing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper