Definition of pastoral in English:



  • 1(of land) used for the keeping or grazing of sheep or cattle.

    ‘scattered pastoral farms’
    • ‘Sometimes I wish that I could make a place on this pastoral land for my old parents to live, digging soil and growing vegetables and fruit.’
    • ‘The station went under the hammer for $1.76 million dollars and is the best price for pastoral land.’
    • ‘With respect to pastoral leases under the Land Act, the provisions are substantially the same.’
    • ‘We encourage the moves currently afoot to create a single pastoral organisation covering sheep, cattle, deer, and goats, funded by a single levy.’
    • ‘European settlers coming to Nelson were looking for flat land which could quickly be developed into pastoral farms.’
    • ‘The demand for land focused hostile attention upon the graziers, who reared cattle and sheep commercially on extensive pastoral holdings.’
    • ‘The pastoral Fulani (full-time cattle keepers) move about with their cattle for much of the year.’
    • ‘In the early years, Tom focussed on developing the land and building his sheep and cattle business into a pastoral empire worth tens of millions of dollars.’
    • ‘He discovered no gold, no minerals, no water, no worthwhile pastoral lands nor anything else of value.’
    • ‘In NSW the selector could settle on land in the pastoral domain without prior notice or official survey: this was free selection by free selectors.’
    • ‘In 1859 Samuel went out exploring for new pastoral land in the far north of South Australia.’
    • ‘After the collapse of the state in 1991 and following a brief period of conflict, most of the former interclan conflicts over pastoral land were stabilized.’
    • ‘Where pastoral land meets the sea it also meets tourists and tourism operators - especially along the attractive Kalbarri coastline.’
    • ‘Those lands comprise approximately 245 hectares of predominantly pastoral land.’
    • ‘So I take it whatever land is available for pastoral uses given the recent drought is actually being covered by this weed?’
    • ‘The expedition was a great success and once and for all proved that there was no inland sea but plenty of land suitable for pastoral development.’
    • ‘It was proclaimed a colony separate from New South Wales only in 1859, by which time the pastoral land in the southern states had been swallowed up.’
    • ‘I accept that in the short term, farmers who are farming sheep and cattle, pastoral farmers, simply cannot afford to close up their paddocks and plant trees, or allow them to revert to native bush.’
    • ‘The protection and regeneration programs led to the resumption of pastoral land in the catchment area.’
    • ‘The tourism industry and Aboriginal groups were well represented with both interest groups expressing their concerns over access to pastoral land.’
    1. 1.1 Associated with country life.
      ‘the view was pastoral, with rolling fields and grazing sheep’
      • ‘Environmental degradation associated with agricultural and pastoral practices has compounded the rural crisis.’
      • ‘Furthermore, the conversion of Algerian land to industrial-scale wheat farming threatened the pastoral way of life of the native population.’
      • ‘The theory envisaged a simple agrarian and pastoral world inhabited by four kinds of people.’
      • ‘Bekan is a pleasant pastoral countryside, as fine as you will fine the length and breadth of Ireland and its cattle and stock measure up.’
      • ‘The pastoral scenes of country life, both winter and summer, and imagined estates with beautiful homes are filled with light and hope.’
      • ‘The two rooms, the first dedicated to work and the second to contemplation, played on the belief that the nymphs themselves engaged in the simple occupations of pastoral life.’
      • ‘The pastoral countryside setting does have its contrasts.’
      • ‘Classy classical music in a verdant, pastoral setting - a nice alternative to the sweaty, heaving crowds of the Jazz Fest.’
      • ‘The rural hinterland offers pastoral delights aplenty - and at prices that vary from good value to frankly unbelievable.’
      • ‘The rich volcanic soil combines with a generous rainfall and cool, brisk climate to offer the Amhara a stable agricultural and pastoral existence.’
      • ‘The differences derive from setting - the corrupt underworld of the modern city instead of the potentially pastoral British country house.’
      • ‘Regent's Park lay like pastoral acres of countryside or the royal hunting ground it once was, its lake a broken piece of mirror.’
      • ‘There was a tendency for communities to view themselves as corporate groups rather than agricultural communities or pastoral hinterlands.’
      • ‘Unlike communities associated with agriculture and industry, the identities of pastoral groups have been far more elastic.’
      • ‘The air is more pastoral and bucolic than in nearby hamlets.’
      • ‘On this moderate-to-strenuous trip, we'll walk the pastoral lowland glens along the banks of exquisite Loch Lomond to the great Scottish Highlands.’
      • ‘The rural district of Sheikhupur, about 30 miles east of the ancient city of Lahore, is a lush, green, pastoral landscape of rice fields and eucalyptus groves.’
      • ‘The French countryside is still pastoral and not all of it is as intensively cultivated as ours.’
      • ‘Yes, people see the problem in the pastoral country as being quite different from in the agricultural area, but in many ways it's the same kind of process.’
      • ‘There are drawbacks, but if you like a pastoral life, with rural pastimes, this is the place.’
      rural, country, countryside, countrified, outdoor, rustic, agricultural, agrarian, provincial, grassy, green, verdant
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 (of a work of art) portraying or evoking country life, typically in a romanticized or idealized form.
      • ‘Recalling the pastoral works of Homer Watson, her shots of rolling, sunbathed hills effectively showcase her background in still photography.’
      • ‘This is most evident in Sunset Song, the swelling overture to the Quair, the words rolling out like a pastoral symphony.’
      • ‘Religion shades into myth, portraits double as allegories and narratives, the pastoral turns erotic - and all in the work of one painter.’
      • ‘Emerson's Transcendentalism drew on German idealism and English pastoral poetry.’
      • ‘Next, they find volumes of poetry many of which romanticize pastoral themes and shepherding.’
      • ‘It portrays pastoral scenes such as the labours of the months, wildlife, and putti (little winged cupids, a popular Roman motif) fishing.’
      • ‘It was a French meadow and all around me there were French people enjoying each other's company and excellent food and drink in generous quantities in a beautiful pastoral landscape in perfect autumn weather.’
      • ‘There are also overtly romantic and pastoral images as well.’
      • ‘This has painted a very different picture of pastoral life for many.’
      • ‘It was also adapted for inclusion in many dramatic works and ballets by such composers as Lully, Campra, and especially Rameau, and was often associated with pastoral scenes.’
      • ‘An idyllic pastoral quality is evoked by two men enjoying the view from the shore of Rocky Neck in the foreground, while a third walks by with his dog and two sheep.’
      • ‘Above the fireplace was a portrait of a pastoral scene with a hunting party in the middle.’
      • ‘Poems by Shin Seok-jeong are peaceful, pastoral pieces about desires to live in paradise and his love toward his dear mother.’
      • ‘The older, more cynical man seems far removed from the enthusiastic young writer who delights in evoking scenes of pastoral Irish life.’
      • ‘The picture remains a pastoral scene with a nominal biblical context: a celebration of landscape immersed in vague wistful reverie.’
      • ‘Strauss ties the pastoral pictures and puppy imagery of his experience to the dominant mode of medicine practiced in America - one that treats symptoms and not causes.’
      • ‘An additional untitled track appears on my copy, delicately picked strings give a warm, fragile romantic pastoral glossiness throughout.’
      • ‘Outside the city, though, his work took on the very different character evident here, combining the lessons of Europe with the pastoral romanticism of Samuel Palmer.’
      • ‘At the simplest level this is knowing what an oboe sounds like and why it is associated with pastoral music.’
      • ‘These include portraits, landscapes, pastoral scenes and prints.’
      • ‘Hall's pieces are pastoral, evoking the chirrup of birds who have learnt the song of car alarms, and the grunt of a badly maintained bus.’
      perfect, ideal, idealized, wonderful, blissful, halcyon, happy
      View synonyms
  • 2(in the Christian Church) concerning or appropriate to the giving of spiritual guidance.

    ‘pastoral and doctrinal issues’
    ‘clergy doing pastoral work’
    • ‘From the beginning, his reflection was articulated in the context of pastoral work and evangelization.’
    • ‘The friars lived by begging, mostly in towns, where they were best placed to engage in their principal vocations, pastoral work and preaching.’
    • ‘I am thinking, in particular, of persons in religious orders but who are not necessarily engaged in pastoral work of the kind that your client is concerned.’
    • ‘A clerical secretary could revoke the permit of a clergyman to do pastoral work.’
    • ‘He helped set up churches in Lima and also lived in Arequipa, a city of a million people 8,000 feet up in the Andes, where he was involved in pastoral work.’
    • ‘His publications are abundant and diverse, and one sees in them a concern not only for history and theology, but also for pastoral work.’
    • ‘However his greatest wish was to continue his pastoral work in Ghana.’
    • ‘Does it matter if one of her professors, himself a rabbi, teaches with an eye toward pastoral work?’
    • ‘When anticlerical legislation sought to curb the power of the clergy institutionally, nuns and priests made pastoral work welfare work.’
    • ‘It is certainly a book to be read by those entering the ministry and by all pastors seeking to be refreshed and re-focused in their preaching and pastoral work.’
    • ‘Graduates will be eligible to study for a Higher Diploma in educational or chaplaincy studies for a career in education or pastoral work.’
    • ‘So there is that history of pastoral work, education, teaching women to read and, eventually, helping women to read the Gospels in the vernacular.’
    • ‘He combines his pastoral work at diocesan and national level with a keen interest in gardening.’
    • ‘Their members took the traditional monastic vows, but devoted their lives to pastoral work, aiming to produce a well-instructed and devout laity.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, the Catholic Church is suffering from a scarcity of priests that is putting its pastoral work under severe strain and its surviving priests under severe stress.’
    • ‘As part of her pastoral work with St James, she also carried out communion at three Clitheroe nursing homes, Castleford, Pendle Court and Clitheroe Nursing Home.’
    • ‘The presence of evangelical contributors is interesting, and the number of those principally engaged in pastoral work is also notable.’
    • ‘Although restricted by the government, he was allowed to engage in pastoral work and development projects, and served as chaplain to the foreign community in Phnom Penh, the capital.’
    • ‘His pastoral work, letters, and published prayers demonstrate his compassion for the sick, his ear for the troubled.’
    • ‘For over ten years his pastoral work was always marked by gentleness, thoughtfulness and sensitivity, especially to those in trouble.’
    • ‘Holloway said he saw the evidence of this despair in his pastoral work, as well as in social ills such as violence, drug use and the high levels of suicide among young men.’
    priestly, clerical, ecclesiastical, ministerial
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 Relating to or denoting a teacher's responsibility for the general well-being of pupils or students.
      ‘the pastoral care of boarders’
      • ‘It was the archbishop of Salzburg and his suffragan bishops who protested vigorously at the involvement of Cyril and Methodius and their pupils in the pastoral care of the Danubian Slavs.’
      • ‘Pupils benefit from the vibrant atmosphere, excellent pastoral care and a strong academic tradition.’
      • ‘At least the Irish Catholic Church over the years has faced its responsibility for their pastoral care.’
      • ‘Other areas praised by the Ofsted team include her leadership as head, and the pastoral care of pupils.’
      • ‘A recent Ofsted report praised the pastoral support pupils are given.’
      • ‘Monitoring of pupils at all levels is exceptionally effective while pastoral care and extra-curricular activities, including music and sport, were also praised.’
      • ‘Serving on the voluntary management committee, they have been responsible for the overall strategy and for the pastoral care of our dedicated staff and of the children who have attended the pre-school.’
      • ‘A far cry from Keijo's spooky, noise-laden pastiches or Islaja's feral moan, Growing Green is subtly pastoral.’
      • ‘In 1975, he was given responsibility for the pastoral care of Dublin pilgrims during the HolyYear in Rome.’
      • ‘Proceeds in excess of 1000 were donated to Colaiste Lorcain Parent's Association to be used for the pastoral care of pupils.’
      • ‘What may be needed, therefore, is a third player to provide unbiased educational information about pharmaceutical products and offer sympathetic pastoral care to general practitioners.’
      • ‘I think that's one of the main things I enjoy about being a teacher - the pastoral side.’
      • ‘One of the prime functions of a teacher is pastoral care, and students assume that their professors will offer moral instruction and guidance.’
      • ‘In contrast, in Study 4 only 3 of the 13 pastoral care teachers conducting the program were trained by the psychologist.’
      • ‘But it does not have to be that way, according to one Blackburn school which has confirmed its place at the forefront of pastoral care for its students.’
      • ‘The Government will continue to work with education providers to reverse that trend by improving the quality of both the education and the pastoral care provided to student visitors.’
      • ‘They have accepted hearsay, endorsed scurrilous attacks, and walked away from their responsibilities as pastoral shepherds and teachers.’
      • ‘He has been a very active teacher in terms of his classroom responsibilities and his pastoral responsibilities.’
      • ‘He stated the class of 2003 will be remembered for their good humour, honesty and sincerity and their contribution to the pastoral care of younger students.’
      • ‘But when he showed interest in the post of acting principal teacher of pastoral care 18 months ago, he was told by the headteacher that he could not apply because he is not a Catholic.’


  • A work of literature portraying an idealized version of country life.

    ‘the story, though a pastoral, has an actual connection with the life of agricultural labour’
    • ‘After moving to St-Tropez in 1892, Signac, a committed anarchist, began to paint politicized pastorals juxtaposing north and south and promoting a leftwing vis ion of the Mediterranean shore.’
    • ‘The subject is arranged around the city/country axis - half the plays are twitchy, snippy, morally grey urban comedies, and the other half are la-la land everything-is-nice-in-the-countryside pastorals.’
    • ‘The placing of the dead in nature, too, began with the Greek and Roman pastorals.’
    • ‘They include idyllic pastorals with little emphasis on genre, mythological scenes, and rooms surrounded by illusionistic painted gardens, full of flowers and fruit and enlivened by birds.’
    • ‘Educated at Oxford, he had written pastorals before leaving for London to become both actor and playwright.’
    • ‘In the early 1590s, he had produced a series of three musical pastorals that are sometimes claimed as the earliest operas.’
    • ‘He wrote The Distrest Mother, a successful adaptation of Racine's Andromaque, but is remembered chiefly for his quarrel with Pope over the relative merits of their pastorals.’
    • ‘Signac's pastorals indicate that in the 1890s the Latin heritage so closely allied to the Midi could have associations other than with the political right, and Signac made these other correlations palpable in his art.’
    • ‘The distant modulation evokes the pastoral and, being thus an allusion, pleases those who recognise it.’
    • ‘Yet despite being praised by certain conservative critics of the day, Signac's pastorals were differentiated in significant ways from both academic and Symbolist renditions of the same subject.’
    • ‘The scene evokes an abbreviated pastoral - but the birds are shackled to their perch, which is in turn connected to the hand crank.’
    • ‘While in the capital, Millet had catered to the desires of an urban clientele in order to feed and house his growing illegitimate family by painting luscious neo-Rococo nudes and pastorals.’
    • ‘His poems have inspired fine musical settings, and his stoic pastorals are some of the most sheerly beautiful in the late Romantic tradition.’
    • ‘A break from the rollicking pastorals of the first four tracks, it serves as the album's star-gazing intermission; from here, it moves towards a safer indie-pop sound.’
    • ‘The wide renown of Puvis, a chameleon of a painter, meant that his relatively anodyne pastorals could be championed by just about anybody for just about any purpose.’
    • ‘The scenes are bucolic pastorals of peasant and aristocratic life during the period.’
    • ‘Their pastorals, both published in 1651, offered choices to Royalists in the aftermath of the crushing defeat at Worcester.’
    • ‘In order to cover all of the ‘Pauline collection’ Johnson takes up themes in the disputed letters and the pastorals, which he sees as ‘genuine lines of continuity’ in all of the letters.’
    • ‘The idealized space of the pastoral is used to provide a locus amoenus for someone who eventually dominates all oral discourse within it.’
    • ‘The costuming also highlights the pastoral, evoking a pre-industrial time which gives the piece a period drama feel and has the effect of turning the drama into a piece of escapism.’
    pastoral, eclogue, georgic, rural poem
    View synonyms


Late Middle English: from Latin pastoralis ‘relating to a shepherd’, from pastor ‘shepherd’ (see pastor).