verb (used with object), sowed, sown or sowed, sow·ing.

to scatter (seed) over land, earth, etc., for growth; plant.
to plant seed for: to sow a crop.
to scatter seed over (land, earth, etc.) for the purpose of growth.
to implant, introduce, or promulgate; seek to propagate or extend; disseminate: to sow distrust or dissension.
to strew or sprinkle with anything.

verb (used without object), sowed, sown or sowed, sow·ing.

to sow seed, as for the production of a crop.

Origin of sow

before 900; Middle English sowen, Old English sāwan; cognate with Dutch zaaien, German säen, Old Norse sā, Gothic saian; akin to seed, Latin sēmen seed, serere to sow
Related formssow·a·ble, adjectivesow·er, nounun·sowed, adjective

Synonyms for sow




an adult female swine.
the adult female of various other animals, as the bear.
  1. a large oblong mass of iron that has solidified in the common channel through which the molten metal flows to the smaller channels in which the pigs solidify.
  2. the common channel itself.
  3. a basin holding any of certain molten nonferrous metals to be cast.

Origin of sow

before 900; Middle English sowe, Old English sugu; cognate with German Sau, Old Norse sȳr, Latin sūs, Greek hûs, Tocharian B suwo; see swine
Related formssow·like, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sows

Historical Examples of sows

  • A horse and mare, a boar and two sows, and a goat with kid were likewise given to him.

    Captain Cook

    W.H.G. Kingston

  • Silvestro sows his seed in two places and they all go off to Mass.

    Diversions in Sicily

    H. Festing Jones

  • She had, however, only thirteen chests of eight and fourteen sows of silver.

  • For here the proverb holds true, 'One sows and another reaps.'

    The Children's Bible

    Henry A. Sherman

  • But surely there would not be wild boars and sows in an island like this?

    Jack at Sea

    George Manville Fenn

British Dictionary definitions for sows



verb sows, sowing, sowed, sown or sowed

to scatter or place (seed, a crop, etc) in or on (a piece of ground, field, etc) so that it may growto sow wheat; to sow a strip of land
(tr) to implant or introduceto sow a doubt in someone's mind
Derived Formssowable, adjectivesower, noun

Word Origin for sow

Old English sāwan; related to Old Norse sā, Old High German sāen, Old Slavonic seja, Latin serere to sow




a female adult pig
the female of certain other animals, such as the mink
  1. the channels for leading molten metal to the moulds in casting pig iron
  2. iron that has solidified in these channels

Word Origin for sow

Old English sugu; related to Old Norse sӯr, Old High German sū, Latin sūs, Norwegian sugga, Dutch zeug: see swine
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 sows



Old English sawan "to scatter seed upon the ground or plant it in the earth, disseminate" (class VII strong verb; past tense seow, past participle sawen), from Proto-Germanic *sean (cf. Old Norse sa, Old Saxon saian, Middle Dutch sayen, Dutch zaaien, Old High German sawen, German säen, Gothic saian), from PIE root *se- (1) "to sow" (cf. Latin sero, past tense sevi, past participle satum "to sow;" Old Church Slavonic sejo, sejati; Lithuanian seju, seti "to sow"), source of semen, season (n.), seed (n.), etc. Figurative sense was in Old English.



Old English sugu, su "female of the swine," from Proto-Germanic *su- (cf. Old Saxon, Old High German su, German Sau, Dutch zeug, Old Norse syr), from PIE root *su- (cf. Sanskrit sukarah "wild boar, swine;" Avestan hu "wild boar;" Greek hys "swine;" Latin sus "swine," swinus "pertaining to swine;" Old Church Slavonic svinija "swine;" Lettish sivens "young pig;" Welsh hucc, Irish suig "swine; Old Irish socc "snout, plowshare"), possibly imitative of pig noise, a notion reinforced by the fact that Sanskrit sukharah means "maker of (the sound) 'su.' " Related to swine. As a term of abuse for a woman, attested from c.1500. Sow-bug "hog louse" is from 1750.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with sows


In addition to the idiom beginning with sow

  • sow one's wild oats

also see:

  • can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.