- the constellation Ursa Major.
- the Big Dipper.
verb (used with object)
- to cleave the surface of (the water): beavers plowing the pond.
- to make (a way) or follow (a course) in this manner: The yacht plowed an easterly course through the choppy Atlantic.
verb (used without object)
- to bury under soil by plowing.
- to cause to disappear; force out of existence; overwhelm: Many mom-and-pop groceries have been plowed under by the big chain stores.
Origin of plow
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.
Reinvest earnings or profits in one's business, as in This company plows back half its profits every year. This term transfers the farming practice of turning the soil from top to bottom to financial enterprises. [First half of 1900s]