Definition of pillow in US English:



  • 1A rectangular cloth bag stuffed with feathers, foam rubber, or other soft materials, used to support the head when lying down.

    • ‘It was beautiful, but couldn't support a feather pillow.’
    • ‘The crib should be empty, with no blankets, pillows, soft materials, stuffed toys, sheepskin, or comforters.’
    • ‘At night you sleep on the softest pillow ever, and both sides of the pillowcase are cool.’
    • ‘Juen heard a stifled breath and she turned around, Kumma's face had paled immensely and his fist was clenched in the soft material of the pillow.’
    • ‘Her arms wrapped around her pillow tightly, stuffing her face in the soft cloth and heaving a sigh.’
    • ‘These devices are supposed to be far healthier than sleeping on a soft pillow, and are still in use today.’
    • ‘Blaise asked, sitting up, but falling back in pain, his head hitting a soft feather pillow.’
    • ‘Gwyneth tried to get up by leaning on her left arm for support, but she winced in pain as she did so, and fell back down onto the soft feathery pillows.’
    • ‘Although nowadays pillows stuffed with feathers are quite common, this should be regarded as a modern innovation.’
    • ‘Her head fell back against the soft pillows supporting her and she pulled the covers up to her forehead.’
    • ‘I felt the soft material against my back and the feathery soft pillow that supported my head.’
    • ‘Wobble feathers were sold and stuffed into pillows and quilts.’
    • ‘Ikeda was slouched in a stuffed chair, head tilted back and supported by a pillow as he slept peacefully.’
    • ‘The maiden quickly laid her head against the pillow stuffed with goose feathers.’
    • ‘Without a word, he laid down beside her, letting his head sink into the soft feather stuffed pillow and resting his hands on his stomach.’
    • ‘The blankets were shredded, as were the pillows, the feather stuffing strewn everywhere.’
    • ‘Her bed was an oak four-post bed with sheets of silk and pillows of soft goose feathers.’
    • ‘I took a deep breath and rested my pounding head against the feather soft pillow.’
    • ‘My bed was also round, with many feather pillows and the softest mattress around, since my mother was a weaver.’
    • ‘In other areas, sleeping on a pillow stuffed with Mugwort leaves is claimed to provoke dreams that reveal one's future.’
    cushion, bolster, headrest, pad, support, rest
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    1. 1.1 A piece of wood or metal used as a support; a block or bearing.


[with object]
  • 1Rest (one's head) as if on a pillow.

    • ‘His head was pillowed on one of Teigue's arms, with Teigue's free arm draped loosely over him.’
    • ‘Sakura's head was pillowed on her arms, folded across the table.’
    • ‘Kiki set her Geometry book and paper to the side and laid down on the wooden floor of the tree house she was occupying, pillowing her head on her folded arms.’
    • ‘The noise woke Graham up, and he sat bolt upright from where he had been pillowing his head on his arms on the side of the bed.’
    • ‘I don't know which one of us drifted off to sleep first, but I looked down at one point to see that she had fallen asleep, her head pillowed on my shoulder.’
    • ‘Chase let me hold him but he pillowed his head on his arms, rolling onto his back.’
    • ‘Their relationship was far from cold: she very much liked being held by him, and she awoke every morning in his arms, head pillowed on his shoulder, or his arm if her back was to him.’
    • ‘He was laying under an army blanket, on a rickety cot, right arm bandaged, and the other pillowing his head.’
    • ‘Karl was sitting with his legs stretched out and crossed, Tom had his legs stretched out and his arms pillowing his head against the wall, and Michael was sitting with his arm resting on his right knee, and his left leg stretched out.’
    • ‘Anest awoke to discover that both he and Lily had fainted from exhaustion, though somehow she lay with her head pillowed on his shoulder.’
    • ‘Jehaldin nodded, and pillowed his head on his arms.’
    • ‘She stopped, her head pillowed on his shoulder and she cried.’
    • ‘Joe's left arm was extended and his head was pillowed on it.’
    • ‘It hummed while I made myself tea, and hummed while I watched it from the kitchen table, and hummed as I pillowed my head on my arms and fell asleep.’
    • ‘He curled up on the floor, pillowing his head on his folded arms.’
    • ‘‘Fine, fine,’ Aidis said as he turned over and pillowed his head on his arms.’
    • ‘I stretched out in the den, pillowed my head on my arm and suffered through the long long night, wet, cold, aching, hungry, wretched, dreaming claustrophobic nightmares.’
    • ‘Yuko shifted position so she was lying on her back, legs crossed at the ankles, arms pillowing her head.’
    • ‘I laid down and he did to and I actually snuggled up to him letting my face pillow itself on his shoulder I fell asleep.’
    • ‘She closed her eyes and smiled, turning on her side to face him and pillowing her head with one arm.’
    lay, cushion, cradle, rest, support, prop, prop up
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    1. 1.1literary Serve as a pillow for.
      ‘her shoulder pillowed his weary head’


Old English pyle, pylu, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch peluw and German Pfühl, based on Latin pulvinus ‘cushion’.