noun, verb (used with or without object) Chiefly British.

Related formsun·ploughed, adjective




an agricultural implement used for cutting, lifting, turning over, and partly pulverizing soil.
any of various implements resembling or suggesting this, as a kind of plane for cutting grooves or a contrivance for clearing away snow from a road or track.
Type Founding. (formerly) an instrument for cutting the groove in the foot of type.
Bookbinding. a device for trimming the edges of the leaves by hand.
(initial capital letter) Astronomy.
  1. the constellation Ursa Major.
  2. the Big Dipper.

verb (used with object)

to turn up (soil) with a plow.
to make (a furrow) with a plow.
to tear up, cut into, or make a furrow, groove, etc. in (a surface) with or as if with a plow (often followed by up): The tractor plowed up an acre of trees.
to clear by the use of a plow, especially a snowplow (sometimes followed by out): The city's work crews were busily plowing the streets after the blizzard.
to invest, as capital (often followed by into): to plow several hundred million into developing new oil fields.
to reinvest or reutilize (usually followed by back): to plow profits back into new plants and equipment.
(of a ship, boat, animal, etc.)
  1. to cleave the surface of (the water): beavers plowing the pond.
  2. to make (a way) or follow (a course) in this manner: The yacht plowed an easterly course through the choppy Atlantic.
Slang: Vulgar. to have sexual intercourse with.

verb (used without object)

to till the soil or work with a plow.
to take plowing in a specified way: land that plows easily.
to move forcefully through something in the manner of a plow (often followed by through, into, along, etc.): The cop plowed through the crowd, chasing after the thief. The car plowed into our house.
to proceed in a slow, laborious, and steady manner (often followed by through): The researcher plowed through a pile of reports.
to move through water by cleaving the surface: a ship plowing through a turbulent sea.

Verb Phrases

plow under,
  1. to bury under soil by plowing.
  2. to cause to disappear; force out of existence; overwhelm: Many mom-and-pop groceries have been plowed under by the big chain stores.
Also especially British, plough.

Origin of plow

before 1100; Middle English plouh, plugh(e), plough(e), Old English plōh; cognate with German Pflug plow
Related formsplow·a·ble, adjectiveplow·a·bil·i·ty, nounplow·er, nouno·ver·plow, verbre·plow, verb (used with object), re·plowed, re·plow·ing.sub·plow, nounsub·plow, verbun·plow·a·ble, adjectiveun·plowed, adjectivewell-plowed, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for ploughing

plow, prepare, farm, mulch, work, plant, turn, dig, sow, labor, grow, tend, dress, harrow, hoe, plough

Examples from the Web for ploughing

Contemporary Examples of ploughing

  • Dragon skins hung in some parish churches and ploughing regularly turned up elf arrows, little-worked flints of great delicacy.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Best of Brit Lit

    Peter Stothard

    November 11, 2009

Historical Examples of ploughing

  • He will soon be on the sea, ploughing his way to Port Natal.

    The Channings

    Mrs. Henry Wood

  • Ploughing was at once attempted, under the direction of our agriculturists.


    Theodor Hertzka

  • Then he went to the third brother, who was the youngest of the three, and also ploughing there.

  • For generations we have been reaping and wasting, instead of ploughing and sowing.

    England and Germany

    Emile Joseph Dillon

  • What ploughing we have done to-day, you can easily catch up with when you begin.

    The Boy Settlers

    Noah Brooks

British Dictionary definitions for ploughing


noun, verb

the usual US spelling of plough
Derived Formsplower, noun


esp US plow


an agricultural implement with sharp blades, attached to a horse, tractor, etc, for cutting or turning over the earth
any of various similar implements, such as a device for clearing snow
a plane with a narrow blade for cutting grooves in wood
(in agriculture) ploughed land
put one's hand to the plough to begin or undertake a task


to till (the soil) with a plough
to make (furrows or grooves) in (something) with or as if with a plough
(when intr, usually foll by through) to move (through something) in the manner of a ploughthe ship ploughed the water
(intr foll by through) to work at slowly or perseveringly
(intr; foll by into or through) (of a vehicle) to run uncontrollably into something in its paththe plane ploughed into the cottage roof
(tr; foll by in, up, under, etc) to turn over (a growing crop, manure, etc) into the earth with a plough
(intr) British slang to fail an examination
Derived Formsplougher or esp US plower, noun

Word Origin for plough

Old English plōg plough land; related to Old Norse plogr, Old High German pfluoc



the Plough the group of the seven brightest stars in the constellation Ursa MajorAlso known as: Charles's Wain Usual US name: the Big Dipper
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 ploughing


alternative spelling of plow. Related: Ploughed; ploughing.



late Old English plog, ploh "plow; plowland" (a measure of land equal to what a yoke of oxen could plow in a day), possibly from a Scandinavian source (cf. Old Norse plogr "plow," Swedish and Danish plog), from Proto-Germanic *plogo- (cf. Old Saxon plog, Old Frisian ploch "plow," Middle Low German ploch, Middle Dutch ploech, Dutch ploeg, Old High German pfluog, German Pflug), a late word in Germanic, of uncertain origin. Old Church Slavonic plugu, Lithuanian plugas "plow" are Germanic loan-words, as probably is Latin plovus, plovum "plow," a word said by Pliny to be of Rhaetian origin.

Replaced Old English sulh, cognate with Latin sulcus "furrow." As a name for the star pattern also known as the Big Dipper or Charles's Wain, it is attested by early 15c., perhaps early 14c. The three "handle" stars (in the Dipper configuration) generally are seen as the team of oxen pulling the plow, though sometimes they are the handle.



late 14c., from plow (n.). Transferred sense from 1580s. Related: Plowed; plowing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper