Definition of hoof in US English:



  • The horny part of the foot of an ungulate animal, especially a horse.

    ‘there was a clatter of hoofs as a rider came up to them’
    • ‘The two horses leapt over him, their iron shod hooves just mere inches from his body.’
    • ‘Worse still, due to bad roads the animals are often left with bleeding injuries and broken hooves.’
    • ‘The unicorn was the color of alabaster, except for the pure gold of his hooves and horn.’
    • ‘She was thinking about going back home when she heard hooves clatter on the bridge.’
    • ‘The carriage slowed to a halt as Kaylen heard the clatter of hooves on cobblestone.’
    • ‘The road was dusty, dry from the summer heat and churned by the passing of hooves and feet.’
    • ‘The sound of horse hooves pounding toward her made Annabelle look up in fright.’
    • ‘Sometimes I can hear the horses whinnying, hooves clip-clopping up the street.’
    • ‘Some of the strongest kinds of glue in the world are made from the hooves of dead horses.’
    • ‘I closed my eyes, the horses hooves and the rocking of the carriage almost lulling me to sleep.’
    • ‘With their teeth, hooves, horns and dung, wildebeest have literally cultivated the grasslands.’
    • ‘The hooves of five stallions on a Cotswold stud farm were so badly overgrown that two of the animals had to be put down, a court heard on Monday.’
    • ‘The angry stamping of hooves brought her back to the present situation.’
    • ‘Clip-clop, clip-clop went his hooves as he clattered over the wooden planks.’
    • ‘The more it rained and the more the horses churned up the ground with their hooves, the worse it got.’
    • ‘The only sound I could hear was the clicking of our boots and the hooves of our horses.’
    • ‘Cyril paused to lift up one of the horse's hooves and check it for pebbles and mud.’
    • ‘Most of them show an animal with cloven hoofs and a beard like a goat, or sometimes a mane like a horse.’
    • ‘She heard the horse hooves slow and she saw that they were coming to a stop at an inn.’
    • ‘She heard the clopping of horse hooves but she didn't know where it was coming from.’
    foot, trotter, cloven hoof
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[with object]hoof it
  • 1Go on foot.

    ‘it was awfully hot, but we hoofed it all the way back’
    • ‘I hoofed it to my parents' room to tell them the story.’
    • ‘If you are required to keep your cart on the path, you can end up walking farther than you would have if you hoofed it.’
    • ‘With a spring, he jumped out of the alleyway and hoofed it back to his apartment.’
    • ‘Most of our vehicles got shipped south, leaving me to hoof it.’
    • ‘Although this is a business trip, I'll have a few hours to hoof it around London, and I am interested to know which places I can visit that have special appeal to Catholics.’
    • ‘After getting off the tram to the hotel, I notice a coffeeshop right by the tram stop, so I hoof it to the hotel, check in, shower, and put on some blissfully fresh clothes, and then head right back to it.’
    • ‘A spanking new airport and swish metro system help, but the runners will probably find it easier to hoof it to the starting blocks.’
    • ‘After two months of pilot training, he flies to India, where he's forced to sell his plane and hoof it.’
    • ‘The bus wheezed up the road to the village of Naggar, where we disembarked, hoisted our packs, and started hoofing it.’
    • ‘Instead of hoofing it to a video store, go to the local library, where you can rent movies for almost half the price (some libraries even offer free rentals).’
    • ‘Two subway stops and a Metro ride later, we were in Jersey, hoofing it back to where the old man was.’
    • ‘Parking a few blocks from her old apartment, Delilah exited the car in favor of hoofing it the rest of the way.’
    • ‘Why go with a guide instead of hoofing it on your own?’
    go by foot, go on foot, travel on foot, foot it, be a pedestrian
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    1. 1.1 Dance.
      ‘we hoof it reasonably fancily, and no one guffaws’
      • ‘Fred's a smart alec sailor who bumps into his old flame while on shore leave, and it's not long before they're hoofing it to ‘Let Yourself Go’ and ‘Dance’.’
      • ‘Certainly it's nothing new to see older dancers still hoofing it.’
      • ‘She tapped on tabletops and trod the backs of shirtless he-men, hoofing it up with Ginger Rogers and Bob Fosse.’
      • ‘But, no, he really does run a dance club, and Maria is soon hoofing it in Geneva.’
      dance, jig, leap, jump, skip, bounce
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  • on the hoof

    • 1(of livestock) not yet slaughtered.

      • ‘This all seemed to work well, but as well as this, according to the regulations, you must have a vet to first inspect all slaughter animals on the hoof - thus adding to the expense.’
      • ‘In the past the production, distribution and circulation of buffaloes, both on the hoof and as meat, were controlled by the nobility and other wealthy commoners.’
      • ‘He said livestock was judged on the hoof at the show and subsequently slaughtered at the East London abattoir.’
      • ‘Remember that we're talking about an animal that weighs all of 110 lb. on the hoof.’
      • ‘The continuing recovery of the live export trade resulted in the export on the hoof of 113,000 head, and increase of 67,000 head, but still well below the level of thirty years ago.’
      • ‘It made you gaze knowingly out over the herd as if you were calculating what they'd bring on the hoof at market.’
      • ‘The levy of 30% on cattle exported on the hoof, on the other hand, is aimed at discouraging the export of live animals from the country.’
      • ‘Moreover, the settlers augmented the Aboriginal food supply by providing them with dogs to hunt kangaroos plus a plentiful supply of beef and lamb on the hoof.’
      • ‘‘It would be so much more humane to send them on the hook, and not on the hoof,’ said SPCA local manager Marie Eekhout.’
      • ‘It is also used by a number of exporters in the Irish livestock industry who ship cattle on the hoof to Lebanon, Egypt and Europe.’
    • 2Without great thought or preparation.

      ‘policy was made on the hoof’
      • ‘But too often, he appears to be making up crime policy on the hoof, like his decision today to release hundreds of criminals early because the prisons are full.’
      • ‘It is worse when the government appears to make policy on the hoof.’
      • ‘Are we about to witness more policy made on the hoof, or is this merely evidence they are struggling to defend the indefensible against valid widespread public protest?’
      • ‘One Scottish advertising director, who did not wish to be named, said: ‘It really has been devised on the hoof.’’
      • ‘Unfortunately they look set to continue the trend of setting parking policy on the hoof, in response to short-term financial pressures rather than in accordance with a long-term vision.’
      • ‘He made up policies on the hoof with his spin doctors, sometimes minutes before appearing on television.’
      • ‘If you're a struggling authority, you court further disaster if you try to make policy on the hoof.’
      • ‘So rather than doing it on the hoof, as it were, perhaps your Lordships would be minded to adopt our suggestion.’
      • ‘The spectacle of government policy being manufactured on the hoof left an indelible stain.’
      • ‘They were instead consummate opportunists, wily politicians who made up policy on the hoof.’


Old English hōf, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch hoef and German Huf.