Definition of oat in US English:



  • 1A cereal plant cultivated chiefly in cool climates and widely used for animal feed as well as human consumption.

    Avena sativa, family Gramineae

    • ‘In addition, more acres of sugar beets were being grown than a year ago, while sunflower, alfalfa, oats, dry edible beans, millet, and wheat were lower.’
    • ‘Crops produced for domestic sale include corn, barley, oats, wheat, potatoes, and fruits.’
    • ‘A large part of its fifty miles by twenty were taken up with arable farming - corn, wheat, barley and oats - while such ancient woodlands as Sherwood Forest still remained.’
    • ‘Here's an excuse to let a section of lawn grow tall and go to hay, or plant some of it to alfalfa, red clover or oats.’
    • ‘Most farmers cultivated wheat, oats and barley, and exported the majority of the agricultural produce.’
    • ‘Including a spring seeded crop such as corn, sorghum, soybean, oat, proso millet or sunflower in the rotation breaks the life cycle of blue mustard.’
    • ‘During Schomburgk's time the garden provided services of considerable importance to farmers by introducing new strains of wheat, oats and sorghum.’
    • ‘The majority of agricultural land is in private hands, wheat, rye, barley, oats, potatoes, and sugar beet being the main crops.’
    • ‘Monotony came from the self-sufficiency of small farms; since bread was the staple food, most farms grew wheat, along with other cereals like rye, oat, buckwheat, maize and barley.’
    • ‘He balances 35 acres of vegetable production with 35 acres in cover crops like red clover, sweet blossom clover, rye, oats and peas.’
    • ‘There's been more interest in planting alfalfa and oats than in recent years.’
    • ‘The best source of fiber is hay, such as timothy, alfalfa, oat, or orchard grass.’
    • ‘Wheat, barley, rice, rye, oats, millet and corn are the world's top food crops.’
    • ‘Usda reports per acre costs of production for only certain crops, including barley, corn, upland cotton, oats, rice, sorghum, soybeans, and wheat.’
    • ‘Greenbugs feed on a variety of grass crops, including wheat, oats, barley, rye and sorghum.’
    • ‘Green manures such as rye and oats are often planted in the fall after the crops have been harvested.’
    • ‘In late spring a second field planted with oats, barley, legumes or lentils, which were harvested in late summer.’
    • ‘Glabrous mutant varieties have been identified in many cereal crop species, including rice, wheat, barley, oats, pearl millet, sugarcane, and sorghum.’
    • ‘The differential localization of GA-like substances occurs between the lower and upper halves of gravistimulated shoots of oats, sunflowers and maize.’
    • ‘Barley, oats, triticale and rye are all valuable in animal feed, and if managed carefully, can produce profitable yields.’
    1. 1.1oats The grain yielded by this, used as food.
      • ‘We have the finest larder in the world: think of our fabulous game, beef, lamb, seafood, oats, barley and soft fruits.’
      • ‘In a large bowl, combine the oats, sugar, raisins, chopped nuts, cinnamon and salt.’
      • ‘The cereal is said to have a combination of real blueberries, sliced strawberries and whole raspberries that were picked at their peak plus the whole grain goodness of toasted oats and wheat flakes.’
      • ‘In a 2-quart pan, melt the lard and peanut butter over medium heat, then stir in the oats, cornmeal, flour, and sugar.’
      • ‘Cereals made with whole wheat, oats or bran are as healthful as they are convenient.’
      • ‘Special foods, including crushed oats, bran and carrots, have been flown in for horses with discerning palates.’
      • ‘Crumble toppings in France, as in England, only rarely contain oats or other rustic grains, unlike the usual American version.’
      • ‘The farm supplies milk from its Ayrshire herd for Duchy Originals milk, vegetables for crisps, oats and wheat for biscuits, pigs for bacon and sausages and barley for ale.’
      • ‘In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup flour, muscovado sugar, oats, and oil, mixing well with a spoon or your hands until the mixture holds together in clumps and all the flour is incorporated.’
      • ‘On the other hand, wholegrains (such as brown rice, oats, wholemeal bread, wholewheat pasta), tend to give rise to more tempered amounts of insulin.’
      • ‘This vegan cheddar is essentially made out of brown rice, oats and canola oil.’
      • ‘Gluten is a protein found in wheat, oats and other grains.’
      • ‘In addition to drinking plenty of water, it pays to eat a diet rich in high-fibre foods such as oats, fresh fruits and vegetables and beans and pulses.’
      • ‘Because oats have a lower gluten content than wheat, people who have a gluten intolerance can safely enjoy a bowl of porridge or biscuits made with oats rather than flour.’
      • ‘In addition to being a popular food, oats also have a long history of use in herbal medicine.’
      • ‘Nutritionally, oats are similar to whole wheat, the main difference being that the oat kernel has not been taken apart, and the wheat kernel has.’
      • ‘The Scottish haggis may be an entirely indigenous invention, but in the absence of written records there is no way of knowing; it could be an adaptation of a Roman recipe to the local mutton and oats.’
      • ‘High fibre foods, such as fresh fruit and veg, oats, lentils and kidney beans, are important.’
      • ‘Whisk together flour, oats, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.’
      • ‘When I looked in the ingredients it's oats with cream powder and skimmed milk in it.’
    2. 1.2 Used in names of wild grasses related to the cultivated oat, e.g., wild oat.
      • ‘Future work will address the impact of infection on these wild grass hosts.’
      • ‘Wild oats is the most serious grassy weed in the Prairies.’
      • ‘The seedhead of slender wild oat is very attenuated and from it projects a long (2-inch) awn that looks like an antenna from a large insect.’


  • feel one's oats

    • informal Feel lively and energetic.

      • ‘Now that you're feeling your oats and enjoying the fruits of your hard labor, not to mention that shake, we might as well let you in on a little secret: you may not be as strong as you think.’
      • ‘Both Brewer and Askew understood that the representatives of cities were feeling their oats, and that success in pushing legislative action required behind-the-scenes lobbying.’
      • ‘There's a strong link between agricultural and political power, and the new farming players are feeling their oats.’
      • ‘‘There are lots of older dancers now who are feeling their oats and looking for opportunities to perform,’ he says.’
      • ‘Perhaps the proper term was ‘feeling her oats’ - whatever it was, she felt a lot better than she had in a long damn time.’
      • ‘I took a few breaths and whispered, ‘He's feeling his oats, Father.’’
      • ‘For one thing, (The Corsair feels his oats) there is a deep discrepancy as to how each of them perceives their ‘relationship.’’
      • ‘‘The little brats are really feeling their oats lately,’ offered Sarah.’
      • ‘And I don't want them to be satisfied with coming here and, you know, feeling our oats because we won our first game.’
      • ‘Libby is feeling his oats now, but when his wife explains how they have no money coming in and tons of it going out, with no prospect of making any more money for years.’
  • sow one's wild oats

    • Engage in a period of wild or irresponsible behavior while young, especially involving many casual sexual relationships.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Unfortunately there is still the unspoken understanding that young men are allowed to sow their wild oats.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I have left him several times in order to sow my wild oats.’
      • ‘She was almost ten years younger than Mom and Uncle Ray, and she was still ‘sowing her wild oats’.’
      • ‘The next summer he sows his wild oats, but tries to maintain a ‘friendship’ with me.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’


Old English āte, plural ātan, of unknown origin. Unlike other names of cereals (such as wheat, barley, etc.), oat is not a mass noun and may originally have denoted the individual grain, which may imply that oats were eaten in grains and not as meal.