Main definitions of sow in English

: sow1sow2

sow1

verb

[WITH OBJECT]
  • 1Plant (seed) by scattering it on or in the earth.

    ‘fill a pot with compost and sow a thin layer of seeds on top’
    • ‘To avoid future problems, make sure all seed trays are thoroughly cleaned before use, fill them with fresh, sterilised seed compost, sow the seeds thinly to prevent overcrowding and irrigate with mains water.’
    • ‘If you forgot to sow some seeds, young tender perennial plants can be bought, potted into individual containers and grown on.’
    • ‘The lid has 49 corresponding spikes which make perfectly central holes in the compost for you to sow your seeds in.’
    • ‘It is too late in the year to sow seeds, but there is still time to order plants for delivery in March.’
    • ‘If you're willing to do a little more work and exercise some patience, there is a way to eradicate or at least greatly reduce your weed population before you sow your flower seed.’
    • ‘Gibson cautions that it is important to sow crop seeds correctly.’
    • ‘Now is the perfect time to sow a few seeds or plant out some seedlings.’
    • ‘Four seeds were sown per pot and thinned to a single plant nearest the center.’
    • ‘With wheat, for example, men tend to prepare the earth and sow the seed, while women and children do much of the weeding.’
    • ‘When you sow a seed or plant a tree, either the seed will germinate and the tree will grow, or they will die.’
    • ‘Seeds were sown on 14 Apr. and the matured plants were harvested on 16 Aug. before the onset of flowering.’
    • ‘Thankfully, I had the presence of mind to get straight outside and plant the Irises, spread the fertilizer and sow the grass seed before it got dark.’
    • ‘So, never mind the fact that it's too late for plants, you can sow seeds in neat little rows now.’
    • ‘Most gardeners propagate sagos from offsets from the mother plant, but you can sow fertilized seeds.’
    • ‘The greatest difficulty in raising primroses from seeds however, is sowing the seeds in the proper sort of seed bed.’
    • ‘He sows seeds by broadcasting them on the ground in February, the coldest month of the year.’
    • ‘Two seeds were sown into each pot and thinned down after emergence to standardize initial seedling size.’
    • ‘Three seeds were sown and plants thinned to one per pot when the first trifoliate leaf emerged.’
    • ‘To sow the seeds, take a handful of seeds from the bag and fling them in front of your body in a fanning motion, letting the seeds roll down your fingers.’
    • ‘In another area, he sows seeds to attract birds like linnets, reed buntings and bramblings.’
    scatter, spread, broadcast, disperse, strew, disseminate, distribute
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Plant the seeds of (a plant or crop)
      ‘catch crops should be sown after minimal cultivation’
      • ‘Grass was sown and the soil was top-dressed but, in the cooler weather of autumn, growth was slow.’
      • ‘Kale, mustard and turnips can be sown as edible winter cover crops that also can feed chickens or grazing animals in late winter.’
      • ‘If you have a long growing season, sow a second crop in early summer, because the plants you start in spring will deteriorate before the season ends.’
      • ‘Afghan farmers have returned to cotton cultivation, sowing the crop over 6,000 hectares of land in the northern Kunduz province after decades of strife.’
      • ‘In 1947 the last wheat crop was sown and five years later the last farmer left followed by the last resident in 1954.’
      • ‘By mid 1843 matters had improved and many of the settlers had cattle, sown a crop and found time, money and labour to build substantial houses.’
      • ‘And there's no joy for farmers getting ready to sow winter crops, with diesel prices also set to rise.’
      • ‘In the field, crops are often sown in late winter or early spring, with risks of prolonged root chilling during vegetative growth.’
      • ‘The crop was sown during December 1997 and harvested in late March 1998.’
      • ‘It is the first festival after the monsoon - traditionally a period when warfare was suspended and fighting men went back to their villages to sow their crops - so the timing is significant.’
      • ‘On one farm I know in Perthshire they have not even been able to sow their grass, let alone cut it.’
      • ‘There was no machinery so the farmer had to sow his crop by hand.’
      • ‘However, food supply has deteriorated as fewer and fewer farmers exist and little or no grain crops are sown.’
      • ‘The early commercial pea crops weren't sown in rows like home gardens, but were planted over the whole paddock and required a great deal of bending over to harvest the sweet green pods.’
      • ‘Many nurseries carry this plant, but it's not too late to sow a crop.’
      • ‘Gardeners in frost-free areas can continue to sow beets, cabbage, carrots, lettuce, peas, radishes, and Swiss chard.’
      • ‘Trees and bush were often cleared from areas where grass was sown, he said.’
      • ‘Maize was sown on two dates in each year; thus, plants sown early were exposed to low temperature, whereas those sown later developed under more favourable conditions.’
      • ‘They later sowed flowers and grass along the stretch of ground immediately behind the face of the wall and the wire fence.’
      • ‘They are otherwise treated as annuals and a fresh crop is sown from seed yearly.’
    2. 1.2Plant (a piece of land) with seed.
      ‘the field used to be sown with oats’
      • ‘‘In previous years, no one even bothered to plant crops because our lands were dry like a desert, but that has all changed and everyone is sowing their land,’ he said.’
      • ‘As a result, 14,313 acres of land were sown a second time around.’
      • ‘The drought has caused great harm to the growing of wheat in the province, with more than about 733,000 hectares of wheat land unable to be sown.’
    3. 1.3Be thickly covered with.
      ‘the night sky was sown with stars’
      • ‘It is easy to keep and breed in the laboratory, living happily in petri dishes that have been sown with lawns of Escherichia coli bacteria.’
    4. 1.4Lay or plant (an explosive mine) or cover (territory) with mines.
      ‘the field had both British and German mines sown in it’
      • ‘Mines can be sown in deep water, and are propelled at high speed towards a target, like a miniature homing torpedo.’
      • ‘After the Soviet Army sowed the passes with mines it ceased and has never, so far as I know, recommenced.’
      • ‘They had sown a lot of mines in the roads and fields nearby and when walking from our house to the flight line we had to stay within a yardwide path which had been cleared of mines and marked with strips of white tape.’
      • ‘His 313th Bomb Wing also sowed 12,000 naval mines in ports and waterways, sinking almost 1 million tons of shipping in about four months.’
      • ‘His fighters laid siege to a country's cities, starved and enslaved its people, and sowed its fields with mines.’
      • ‘The British estimate that some 25,000 land mines, mostly sown by Argentine forces in the 1982 war with Britain, remain.’
      • ‘Hikers in the national forest who stumble into a clearing full of cannabis need to backtrack out very carefully; pot farms are often sown with mines.’
      • ‘Morocco, which has not signed the 1997 Ottawa Convention that bans anti-personnel mines, is believed to have sown about seven million mines in the region.’
  • 2Disseminate or introduce (something undesirable)

    ‘the new policy has sown confusion and doubt’
    • ‘His openness and willingness to speak to the media sowed confusion rather than clarity.’
    • ‘They sow doubt not only in the minds of the young men but also in the mature minds of army and naval officers and even of certain of our historians.’
    • ‘These attacks could not have been better designed to sow doubt.’
    • ‘But two accounting issues also may be sowing confusion.’
    • ‘Again, modern science's intrusion into a realm where it tends to sow confusion lies at the heart of the matter.’
    • ‘What happened to the record industry in 1948 was the result of dueling technical standards sowing market confusion.’
    • ‘But they are sowing confusion amid the forces of democracy.’
    • ‘They serve to undermine social consciousness and sow political confusion.’
    • ‘How long they get away with it depends on how long they can sow confusion and doubt.’
    • ‘We should judge cases on an individual basis - and remember that tedious clichés about ‘playing God’ do little to advance understanding, but a lot to sow confusion.’
    • ‘Not only does this harm individual patients, but it also sows a dangerous confusion in the minds of people living with HIV, decision makers and the general public.’
    • ‘I sensed he was mildly irritated, but also knew I'd succeeded in sowing a doubt in his mind.’
    • ‘Or the collapse could all be part of a republican game plan to sow confusion among Unionists and reap the electoral rewards.’
    • ‘This is designed to sow doubts among his followers about his authenticity.’
    • ‘Martin has the same gift for misunderstanding everyone and sowing chaos and confusion.’
    • ‘His presentation was consistent with one whose goal is to sow doubt about evolution, and to gain more recruits and allies than he already has.’
    • ‘Should Kansas voters decide to chisel the prohibition into the state constitution, they also will be sowing confusion and inviting litigation.’
    • ‘It's a confidence game updated and used for political, or in this case, the artist's, purposes, which seem to lie partly in sowing confusion.’
    • ‘Don't let's spoil it by creating hydra-headed initiatives that end up competing with one another and sowing confusion in their wake.’
    • ‘The complexity of this debate has sown confusion among feminist human rights activists, undermining the effectiveness of the global feminist movement.’
    cause, bring about, occasion, create, give rise to, lead to, produce, engender, generate, induce, invite, implant, plant, lodge, prompt, evoke, elicit, initiate, precipitate, instigate, trigger, spark off, provoke
    View synonyms

Phrases

  • sow the seed (or seeds) of

    • Do something which will eventually bring about (a particular result)

      ‘the seeds of dissension had been sown’
      • ‘This experience sowed the seeds of the eventual skepticism I'd later feel towards much of my first church's teaching and practice.’
      • ‘But if we persist in our short-sighted and, let face it, greedy attitude to school places, then we're sowing the seeds of future anarchy.’
      • ‘Such are the quirks of youth that can herald sudden fancies, and occasionally sow the seeds of a lifetime's obsession.’
      • ‘Success sows the seeds of future failure, and failure may bring a later success.’
      • ‘Only the disapprovingly arched eyebrow of the undercover trading standards investigator sows the seeds of doubt.’
      • ‘A steady exodus of educated women is worsening a gender gap among eastern Germany's young and could be sowing the seeds of social upheaval.’
      • ‘Still ahead on the program, women in one Egyptian village are sowing the seeds of economic success, as traditional art meets high fashion.’
      • ‘The common thread that ran across the observations made by the leaders was that religion is a tool that should foster one's inner growth and not sow the seeds of discord.’
      • ‘Over 100 years previously, Rousseau, in a broader educational context, sowed the seeds of what is sometimes called the ‘child-centred’ view of education.’
      • ‘In my view it is this sort of indifference and ignorance to other people of the world that sows the seeds of terrorism.’
  • sow one's wild oats

    • Go through a period of wild or promiscuous behaviour while young.

      ‘he sowed his wild oats before settling down’
      • ‘The next summer he sows his wild oats, but tries to maintain a ‘friendship’ with me.’
      • ‘Anybody who has walked downtown on a weekend evening probably has a good idea that countless young American students regularly visit to sow their wild oats.’
      • ‘She was almost ten years younger than Mom and Uncle Ray, and she was still ‘sowing her wild oats’.’
      • ‘The second week of hot weather heralded the coming of mini-skirts, short shorts and halter tops and of course, the mating calls of the testosterone filled males who were just itching to sow their wild oats.’
      • ‘Life was ‘full and merry’, perhaps selfish and debauched, with heavy use of the double standard as young men ‘sowed their wild oats’.’
      • ‘In this case, it is probably for the best that they sow their wild oats when they are young.’
      • ‘I have left him several times in order to sow my wild oats.’
      • ‘men with a roving eye have been sowing their wild oats far and wide for millennia, new genetic evidence suggests.’
      • ‘There's a view that you should sow your wild oats and not marry until you're 30, but I disagree with that.’
      • ‘Unfortunately there is still the unspoken understanding that young men are allowed to sow their wild oats.’

Origin

Old English sāwan, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch zaaien and German säen.

Pronunciation:

sow

/səʊ/

Main definitions of sow in English

: sow1sow2

sow2

noun

  • 1An adult female pig, especially one which has farrowed.

    • ‘The sow's milk production limits the growth of pigs prior to weaning.’
    • ‘When sows are housed in a social group, the experimental unit is clearly the pen or group of sows.’
    • ‘Crates must be so designed that the farrowing sow will have a clear space behind her to facilitate easy farrowing and also able to prevent the newly born piglets from getting squashed.’
    • ‘Claw lesions were reported to be more common in loose-housed sows than in either tethered or stallhoused sows.’
    • ‘Apart from not seeing as many ploughs, you don't now see as many sows or cows scattered throughout the countryside.’
    • ‘Lactation insufficiency in the sow is an extremely complex syndrome, and over 30 different etiologies have been associated with the problem.’
    • ‘Pregnant sows can still be kept in sow stalls for the first four weeks of their 16 1/2-week pregnancy and the lengthy phase-out period.’
    • ‘At the start of the industry's depression in 1998 there were 850,000 breeding sows in the UK.’
    • ‘Their pigs forage in fields and woods, their sows only produce two litters of piglets a year and pigs are prepared at the farm butchery, so there's no transport of live animals.’
    • ‘However, individually housed sows can be protected from aggressive physical interactions if partitions are in place.’
    • ‘When breeding sows outlived their purpose they were sent to slaughter.’
    • ‘The practice may be warranted, however, to prevent injuries to pigs and sows.’
    • ‘Planners are concerned about the proposed new building to house pregnant sows which would have a floorspace of 400 square metres and a ridge height of eight metres.’
    • ‘A day before the sows are ready to farrow, the farrowing boxes are set up in the rooms.’
    • ‘In those years, farmers typically raised only 25 or 30 pigs and three or four sows, he said.’
    • ‘In the fall, he makes a daily chore out of selecting the best ears to plant the following season and feeding the culled ears to his gestating sows on pasture.’
    • ‘Tethering may cause a sow to attempt to escape, especially when sows first experience the tether.’
    • ‘On average 800,000 pigs are slaughtered every year in New Zealand while some 50,000 sows are retained for breeding.’
    • ‘Why then, Lay wondered, are other sows so restless that their movements endanger piglets in those first 12 hours?’
    • ‘In stalls, the sow can move within the limits of the bars or fences.’
    1. 1.1The female of certain other mammals, e.g. the guinea pig.
      • ‘Once he was filmed crawling along the ground singing as he approached a sow and two cubs.’
      • ‘These days, in fact, he tries to identify bears - such as the sow and her cubs we're looking for - that might get hooked and move them well before they do.’
      • ‘It was our fourth day out and we had seen a few deer and lots of bears, including a grizzly sow and cub that had run out right in front of us while we were coming up to the hunting spot.’
      • ‘Management of the trial was designed to minimise adverse welfare effects on the badgers and included a three-month period in the spring during which no culling took place in order to protect lactating sows and their cubs.’
      • ‘In Yellowstone, the loss of even half a dozen adult sows could tip the population into a downward spiral.’
      • ‘Bill and Madeline had even schooled the children in poses for various combinations of bears: a solo male, a sow with cubs.’
      • ‘If the sow has not eaten enough to sustain herself over the hibernation, the egg will not implant.’
  • 2A large block of metal (larger than a ‘pig’) made by smelting.

    • ‘He said most of the stock is ingot, whereas more consumers prefer T-bar or sow.’

Phrases

  • you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear

    • proverb You can't create a fine product from inferior materials.

      • ‘My grandmother used to tell me you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.’
      • ‘As the old saying goes, you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.’
      • ‘Thompson says, ‘you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.’’
      • ‘But you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.’

Origin

Old English sugu; related to Dutch zeug, German Sau, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin sus and Greek hus pig.

Pronunciation:

sow

/saʊ/