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  1. a person who herds, tends, and guards sheep.
  2. a person who protects, guides, or watches over a person or group of people.
  3. a member of the clergy.
  4. the Shepherd, Jesus Christ.
  5. sheepdog.
verb (used with object)
  1. to tend or guard as a shepherd: to shepherd the flock.
  2. to watch over carefully.

Origin of shepherd

before 1050; Middle English shepherde, Old English scēphyrde. See sheep, herd2
Related formsshep·herd·less, adjectiveshep·herd·like, adjectiveun·der·shep·herd, nounun·shep·herd·ed, adjectiveun·shep·herd·ing, adjective

Synonyms for shepherd

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  1. a male given name. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for shepherd

Contemporary Examples of shepherd

Historical Examples of shepherd

  • The doctor is nearing them rapidly; they can imagine the shepherd's tartan.

  • One of the months in the "Shepherd's Calendar" is composed in it.

    A Dish Of Orts

    George MacDonald

  • But, oh, shepherd, what avails it to live in hopeless misery?


    William Godwin

  • Grief is not an inmate of the plain; the hours of the shepherd are sped in gaiety and mirth.


    William Godwin

  • You too are young and uninured even to the misfortunes of the shepherd.


    William Godwin

British Dictionary definitions for shepherd


  1. a person employed to tend sheepFemale equivalent: shepherdess Related adjectives: bucolic, pastoral
  2. a person, such as a clergyman, who watches over or guides a group of people
verb (tr)
  1. to guide or watch over in the manner of a shepherd
  2. Australian rules football to prevent opponents from tackling (a member of one's own team) by blocking their path

Word Origin for shepherd

from Old English sceaphirde. See sheep, herd ²


  1. astronomy a small moon of (e.g.) Saturn orbiting close to the rings and partly responsible for ring stability
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 shepherd

Old English sceaphierde, from sceap "sheep" (see sheep) + hierde "herder," from heord "a herd" (see herd (n.)). Cf. Middle Low German, Middle Dutch schaphirde, Middle High German schafhirte, German dialectal Schafhirt. Shepherds customarily were buried with a tuft of wool in hand, to prove on Doomsday their occupation and be excused for often missing Sunday church. Shepherd's pie is recorded from 1877.


1790, "to herd sheep," from shepherd (n.). The metaphoric sense of "watch over or guide" is first recorded 1820. Related: Shepherded; shepherding.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper