- any of numerous ruminant mammals of the genus Ovis, of the family Bovidae, closely related to the goats, especially O. aries, bred in a number of domesticated varieties.
- leather made from the skin of these animals.
- a meek, unimaginative, or easily led person.
- separate the sheep from the goats, to separate good people from bad or those intended for a specific end from unqualified people.
Origin of sheep
Examples from the Web for sheep
I had to pause for sheep crossing the road, which is a common occurrence when driving through the Highlands of Scotland.A Whisky Connoisseur Remembers That First Sip of The Macallan
December 10, 2014
You will find winding pasture for sheep and highland cattle.Ester Elchies, The Estate Built By Whiskey
December 10, 2014
Farmers, fearing ISIS attacks, have left the city with their sheep.Remembering Kobani Before The Siege
Mustafa Abdi, Movements.Org, Advancing Human Rights
November 8, 2014
He notes that on Naxos sheep have very large gallbladders, but on Euboea they do not.Why Aristotle Deserves A Posthumous Nobel
October 18, 2014
Another Yazidi man from south of the mountain near Tel Banat told me that his kreef is protecting his sheep.On the Ground, Collaborators With ISIS Could Be Its Big Weakness
Christine van den Toorn
August 30, 2014
I have in mind one old chap who used to herd the sheep on my uncle's farm.Ballads of a Bohemian
Robert W. Service
What sheep he did not kill for the use of his men, he ordered to be bayoneted.A Sketch of the Life of Brig. Gen. Francis Marion
William Dobein James
The first picture that attracted our admiration was a "Sheep scene," by Lambdin.
Wolves or watch-dogs, it was hard to say from which the sheep had most to fear.The White Company
Arthur Conan Doyle
I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.An Explanation of Luther's Small Catechism
- any of various bovid mammals of the genus Ovis and related genera, esp O. aries (domestic sheep), having transversely ribbed horns and a narrow face. There are many breeds of domestic sheep, raised for their wool and for meatRelated adjective: ovine
- Barbary sheep another name for aoudad
- a meek or timid person, esp one without initiative
- separate the sheep from the goats to pick out the members of any group who are superior in some respects
- Sky High Earnings Expectations Possibly: applied to investments that appear to offer high returns but may be unreliable
Word Origin and History for sheep
ruminant mammal, Old English sceap, scep, from West Germanic *skæpan (cf. Old Saxon scap, Old Frisian skep, Middle Low German schap, Middle Dutch scaep, Dutch schaap, Old High German scaf, German Schaf), of unknown origin. Not found in Scandinavian (cf. Danish faar "sheep") or Gothic (which uses lamb), and with no known cognates outside Germanic. The more usual Indo-European word for the animal is represented in English by ewe.
The plural form was leveled with the singular in Old English, but Old Northumbrian had a plural scipo. Used since Old English as a type of timidity and figuratively of those under the guidance of God. The meaning "stupid, timid person" is attested from 1540s. The image of the wolf in sheep's clothing was in Old English (from Matt. vii:15); that of separating the sheep from the goats is from Matt. xxv:33. To count sheep in a bid to induce sleep is recorded from 1854 but seems not to have been commonly written about until 1870s. It might simply be a type of a tedious activity, but an account of shepherd life from Australia from 1849 ["Sidney's Emigrant's Journal"] describes the night-shepherd ("hut-keeper") taking a count of the sheep regularly at the end of his shift to protect against being answerable for any animals later lost or killed.
Sheep's eyes "loving looks" is attested from 1520s (cf. West Frisian skiepseach, Dutch schaapsoog, German Schafsauge). A sheep-biter was "a dog that worries sheep" (1540s); "a mutton-monger" (1590s); and "a whore-monger" (1610s, i.e. one who "chases mutton"); hence Shakespeare's sheep-biting "thieving, sneaky."
Idioms and Phrases with sheep
see black sheep; hanged for a sheep; separate the sheep from the goats; wolf in sheep's clothing.