Definition of pastoral in US English:



  • 1(especially of land or a farm) used for or related to the keeping or grazing of sheep or cattle.

    ‘scattered pastoral farms’
    • ‘We encourage the moves currently afoot to create a single pastoral organisation covering sheep, cattle, deer, and goats, funded by a single levy.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘European settlers coming to Nelson were looking for flat land which could quickly be developed into pastoral farms.’
    • ‘The station went under the hammer for $1.76 million dollars and is the best price for pastoral land.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Where pastoral land meets the sea it also meets tourists and tourism operators - especially along the attractive Kalbarri coastline.’
    • ‘The tourism industry and Aboriginal groups were well represented with both interest groups expressing their concerns over access to pastoral land.’
    • ‘The protection and regeneration programs led to the resumption of pastoral land in the catchment area.’
    • ‘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 demand for land focused hostile attention upon the graziers, who reared cattle and sheep commercially on extensive pastoral holdings.’
    • ‘With respect to pastoral leases under the Land Act, the provisions are substantially the same.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In 1859 Samuel went out exploring for new pastoral land in the far north of South Australia.’
    • ‘He discovered no gold, no minerals, no water, no worthwhile pastoral lands nor anything else of value.’
    • ‘The pastoral Fulani (full-time cattle keepers) move about with their cattle for much of the year.’
    • ‘So I take it whatever land is available for pastoral uses given the recent drought is actually being covered by this weed?’
    • ‘Those lands comprise approximately 245 hectares of predominantly pastoral land.’
    1. 1.1 Associated with country life.
      ‘the view was pastoral, with rolling fields and grazing sheep’
      • ‘The pastoral countryside setting does have its contrasts.’
      • ‘There was a tendency for communities to view themselves as corporate groups rather than agricultural communities or pastoral hinterlands.’
      • ‘Regent's Park lay like pastoral acres of countryside or the royal hunting ground it once was, its lake a broken piece of mirror.’
      • ‘Furthermore, the conversion of Algerian land to industrial-scale wheat farming threatened the pastoral way of life of the native population.’
      • ‘The air is more pastoral and bucolic than in nearby hamlets.’
      • ‘The theory envisaged a simple agrarian and pastoral world inhabited by four kinds of people.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Environmental degradation associated with agricultural and pastoral practices has compounded the rural crisis.’
      • ‘The French countryside is still pastoral and not all of it is as intensively cultivated as ours.’
      • ‘Classy classical music in a verdant, pastoral setting - a nice alternative to the sweaty, heaving crowds of the Jazz Fest.’
      • ‘There are drawbacks, but if you like a pastoral life, with rural pastimes, this is the place.’
      • ‘The rural hinterland offers pastoral delights aplenty - and at prices that vary from good value to frankly unbelievable.’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘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 pastoral scenes of country life, both winter and summer, and imagined estates with beautiful homes are filled with light and hope.’
      • ‘Unlike communities associated with agriculture and industry, the identities of pastoral groups have been far more elastic.’
      • ‘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.’
      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.
      • ‘There are also overtly romantic and pastoral images as well.’
      • ‘Next, they find volumes of poetry many of which romanticize pastoral themes and shepherding.’
      • ‘The picture remains a pastoral scene with a nominal biblical context: a celebration of landscape immersed in vague wistful reverie.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Religion shades into myth, portraits double as allegories and narratives, the pastoral turns erotic - and all in the work of one painter.’
      • ‘Above the fireplace was a portrait of a pastoral scene with a hunting party in the middle.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Poems by Shin Seok-jeong are peaceful, pastoral pieces about desires to live in paradise and his love toward his dear mother.’
      • ‘It portrays pastoral scenes such as the labours of the months, wildlife, and putti (little winged cupids, a popular Roman motif) fishing.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Emerson's Transcendentalism drew on German idealism and English pastoral poetry.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Recalling the pastoral works of Homer Watson, her shots of rolling, sunbathed hills effectively showcase her background in still photography.’
      • ‘The older, more cynical man seems far removed from the enthusiastic young writer who delights in evoking scenes of pastoral Irish life.’
      • ‘An additional untitled track appears on my copy, delicately picked strings give a warm, fragile romantic pastoral glossiness throughout.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This is most evident in Sunset Song, the swelling overture to the Quair, the words rolling out like a pastoral symphony.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This has painted a very different picture of pastoral life for many.’
      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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘From the beginning, his reflection was articulated in the context of pastoral work and evangelization.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A clerical secretary could revoke the permit of a clergyman to do pastoral work.’
    • ‘His pastoral work, letters, and published prayers demonstrate his compassion for the sick, his ear for the troubled.’
    • ‘He combines his pastoral work at diocesan and national level with a keen interest in gardening.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Graduates will be eligible to study for a Higher Diploma in educational or chaplaincy studies for a career in education or pastoral work.’
    • ‘The friars lived by begging, mostly in towns, where they were best placed to engage in their principal vocations, pastoral work and preaching.’
    • ‘So there is that history of pastoral work, education, teaching women to read and, eventually, helping women to read the Gospels in the vernacular.’
    • ‘Their members took the traditional monastic vows, but devoted their lives to pastoral work, aiming to produce a well-instructed and devout laity.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘For over ten years his pastoral work was always marked by gentleness, thoughtfulness and sensitivity, especially to those in trouble.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The presence of evangelical contributors is interesting, and the number of those principally engaged in pastoral work is also notable.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    priestly, clerical, ecclesiastical, ministerial
    View synonyms


  • 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 labor’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The distant modulation evokes the pastoral and, being thus an allusion, pleases those who recognise it.’
    • ‘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 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.’
    • ‘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 placing of the dead in nature, too, began with the Greek and Roman pastorals.’
    • ‘In the early 1590s, he had produced a series of three musical pastorals that are sometimes claimed as the earliest operas.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The scene evokes an abbreviated pastoral - but the birds are shackled to their perch, which is in turn connected to the hand crank.’
    • ‘His poems have inspired fine musical settings, and his stoic pastorals are some of the most sheerly beautiful in the late Romantic tradition.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 idealized space of the pastoral is used to provide a locus amoenus for someone who eventually dominates all oral discourse within it.’
    • ‘Educated at Oxford, he had written pastorals before leaving for London to become both actor and playwright.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    pastoral, eclogue, georgic, rural poem
    View synonyms


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