Definition of forage in US English:



[no object]
  • 1(of a person or animal) search widely for food or provisions.

    ‘gulls are equipped by nature to forage for food’
    • ‘Among the birds foraging for food, there were a couple of crows.’
    • ‘White-headed Woodpeckers forage for insects on trunks and limbs as well as in clusters of needles.’
    • ‘It is at this time that we should especially forage for the early spring greens and vitamin rich edible weeds.’
    • ‘One of the most eyecatching outdoor displays at the fair is a small herd of reindeer - their outlines picked out in twinkling white bulbs - whose heads move from side to side as they forage for food in the snow.’
    • ‘Even after the calf can forage for itself, it may hang around till the next calf is born.’
    • ‘They may also forage for insects, plankton, mollusks, crustaceans, and small fish.’
    • ‘He would forage for food in the morning and hope that tomorrow was the day his luck changed.’
    • ‘We found that parents forage during the nighttime and deliver collected food to the begging young in several small meals during the day.’
    • ‘Here, officials of the government-run Forest Department reportedly did not allow them to forage for food in the forests.’
    • ‘When chimps forage for food they do not ask themselves why, or consider better alternatives any more than does a beaver consider better ways of building dams.’
    • ‘Alexander must forage for the kind of food products no longer available in the shops (Dutch gherkins have replaced his mother's favourite).’
    • ‘Whereas increased consumption may compensate for some costs of parental care, foraging also reduces time spent on parental care, leading to offspring being more vulnerable to predators while the parent forages.’
    • ‘Until the first batch of workers hatches, the queen must forage for all the food herself, and this two - to three-week period is when she is vulnerable to being trapped.’
    • ‘Female kakapo raise their chicks on their own, and at night they leave their nest to forage for food.’
    • ‘Prior to the two ladies feeding the pigeons, they had to go to open farmland each day to forage for food.’
    • ‘Workers foraged for two food materials, nectar and prey, and for two building materials, water and wood pulp.’
    • ‘During the winter months, they may forage for food during the day because of the difficulty in finding an adequate food source.’
    • ‘The thin silken tissue they create using their fore legs forms a shield that protects them from predators such as ants and geckos and enables them to forage for food in relative safety.’
    • ‘Angling closer and slowing to a walk, he is shocked to see a trio of dire wolves foraging in the snow.’
    • ‘Chicks given implants of corticosterone beg more than controls resulting in parents foraging to bring more food.’
    search, hunt, rummage, rummage around, forage, scrabble, grub, root about, root around, scavenge, fish about, fish around, rake around, feel around, grope around, nose around, ferret, ferret about, ferret around
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    1. 1.1with object Obtain (food or provisions)
      ‘a girl foraging grass for oxen’
      • ‘These data, and others, have led to the concept that plants actively forage resources from their environment using assessment mechanisms similar to those of animals.’
      • ‘The true usefulness of the pig lies in its ability to forage anything from household waste to grass, and thrive.’
    2. 1.2with object Obtain food or provisions from (a place)
      ‘a man foraging a dumpster finds some celery’
      • ‘I now spend most nights foraging the refrigerator and the cupboards for ingredients to concoct something he would like.’
      • ‘For both human and animal there are cues in the environment that help us judge whether to continue foraging in the same location or to forage elsewhere.’
      • ‘So, he came to live in that place, and none knew how he lived or gained his sustenance, other than from his foraging the countryside for bottles and other redeemable scrap.’
      hunt, hunt around, search, look about, look around, look round, cast about, cast around, cast round, rummage, rummage about, rummage around, rummage round, ferret, ferret about, ferret around, root about, root around, scratch about, scratch around, nose about, nose around, nose round, scour, look high and low
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    3. 1.3archaic with object Supply (an animal or person) with food.


  • 1Bulky food such as grass or hay for horses and cattle; fodder.

    • ‘Horses are simple-stomach herbivores who need some forage, either as pasture and/or hay in their diet.’
    • ‘The fall-winter wheat pasture produced by dual-purpose wheat is a valuable source of high-quality forage when perennial pastures are dormant.’
    • ‘Red clover is grown widely as forage for dairy cattle in regions with poorly drained or low pH soils that are not suited for alfalfa production.’
    • ‘Originally, kudzu was promoted in the 1800s as an erosion control and cheap livestock forage for the eastern and southern United States.’
    • ‘The quality of alfalfa and corn silage, two primary dairy cattle forages, has increased, providing more energy for milk production.’
    • ‘An important discussion of forage and fodder distinguishes practices in different regions.’
    • ‘With careful management, the grass crop will flourish and provide affordable forage for livestock.’
    • ‘The tenant risks poor performance or health of the livestock due to less forage and lower quality feed.’
    • ‘For her fiftieth birthday Don built Rebecca a chicken tractor - a long wire enclosure on wheels that enables her to graze chickens along the rows of green manure forage.’
    • ‘Native grasses support cattle grazing and provide forage and shelter for native wild animals, such as elk, bighorn sheep, and sage grouse.’
    • ‘Cool-season grass pastures will have some forage growth in the fall, but usually less than alfalfa.’
    • ‘It provides early spring forage not only for cattle and sheep, but for wild ruminants as well, including deer, bison, elk, and moose.’
    • ‘The goal is, as far as possible, to let the cows walk to the pasture, harvest forage from pastures, spread their manure themselves, then walk back to the milking station.’
    • ‘The dominant forage is orchard grass, with some quack, brome, blue grass and assorted other species.’
    • ‘It may provide enough forage to delay turning cattle into spring pastures with limited growth that could be rapidly over grazed.’
    • ‘Lack of precipitation resulted in a severe decrease in availability of mixed grass forage, resulting in animal BW loss.’
    • ‘However, these studies did not determine optimal stocking density on the basis of quantity of standing crop forage at placement time.’
    • ‘While making forage into silage also removes nutrients from the soil, the product is more difficult than hay to transport.’
    • ‘This year some producers may benefit from using a drought-stressed grain crop for livestock forage.’
    • ‘The amount of winter hay fed varied annually depending on available winter pasture forage.’
    fodder, feed, food, foodstuff, herbage, pasturage
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  • 2in singular A wide search over an area in order to obtain something, especially food or provisions.

    ‘the nightly forage produces things that can be sold’
    • ‘A desperate forage in the log pile to feed the wood-burner can wreck a grass snake's winter and even an innocent trip to the cellar for a bottle of wine may prove fatal to a hibernating bat.’
    • ‘Kuala Lumpar offers lots to do: a visit to the world's tallest building, a forage in the famous night market or a trip to the Hindu temples at the Batu Caves.’
    • ‘If only the director trusted her audience, this could've been a sublime forage into the netherworld of the human psyche.’
    scavenge, hunt, search, look, exploration, quest, scout, probe
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Middle English: from Old French fourrage (noun), fourrager (verb), from fuerre ‘straw’, of Germanic origin and related to fodder.