Definition of plow in US English:


(British plough)


  • 1A large farming implement with one or more blades fixed in a frame, drawn by a tractor or by animals and used for cutting furrows in the soil and turning it over, especially to prepare for the planting of seeds.

    • ‘You can improve soil quality and aggregate stability by adding amendments like manure, but if you follow with a plow, you may do more harm than good.’
    • ‘Traditional agricultural implements, such as the foot plow, are still widely used.’
    • ‘Bill began in business with six horses and a plough doing contract ploughing around the district.’
    • ‘In the nearby field, a heavily yoked yak drags the wooden plough through the rocky soil to the singsong tune of his master.’
    • ‘One Ethiopian study showed that heavy clay soils which could not be worked with wooden ploughs became fertile when steel was used.’
    • ‘This soil management practice reduces the need for excessive use of ploughs, discs and harrows.’
    • ‘If you turn your heavy soil with a plow in fall or early spring, your tiller will be much more effective.’
    • ‘Ben uses a horse and a two-handled, V-shaped, walk-behind plow for turning the soil.’
    • ‘Motors and lifting straps can fail because crewmembers attempt to lift the plow while the blades are full of dirt and debris.’
    • ‘The strip shape of these plots suggests that they were ploughed with a heavy plough with a fixed mould board.’
    • ‘Well, it's off to the equipment shop to rebuild the plow for our fall plowing operations.’
    • ‘Each day I must yoke the oxen and fasten the ploughshare to the plough.’
    • ‘The last step is to attach the plow blade to the front tire forks.’
    • ‘We could spend a lot of time talking about precision adjustments for plows, tillage implements, grain drills, and combines.’
    • ‘If he made a plow blade just a little bit off, the farmer who bought it would not be able to till his fields properly.’
    • ‘The removal of the age-old plough from farming could lead to a major drop in pollution in rivers and lakes, according to environmentalists.’
    • ‘In September, men prepare the fields with plows pulled by oxen while women do the sowing.’
    • ‘As a result, small farmers can no longer obtain the plows, seed-drills, fertilizer, or high-quality seed they used to receive on credit.’
    • ‘But like those in the first, they sow this new seed in traditional furrows and with traditional plows.’
    • ‘Cotton seed should not be planted behind the plough, as is the case when planting maize or groundnuts.’
    1. 1.1North American A snowplow.
      • ‘There were a few cars, a plough clearing the parking areas and a sign reading ‘look around you and you can see all sorts of wild plants and animals’.’
      • ‘A Bradford Council highways spokesman said the snowploughs would be able to drive over the Burley Woodhead speed bumps, but would have to raise their plough blade to get over the humps.’
      • ‘The plows move in a ‘conga line’, one tossing snow to the next.’
      • ‘Thankfully, she'd parked in his wide driveway so no one would have to worry about a plow sideswiping her car during the night.’
  • 2A yoga pose assumed by lying on one's back and swinging one's legs over one's head until the outstretched feet approach or touch the floor.

    ‘positions like plow and headstand can strain the neck’
    • ‘Before incorporating the practice of Halasana one should master Poorwa Halasana (the Preliminary plough pose) under guidance.’
    • ‘Yoga is so fashionable it seems absolutely everyone is doing the dog, the cat, the cobra and the plough.’
    • ‘When these people bent their legs back over their heads in the plough pose, there was a greater risk of injury.’
    • ‘In the plough, your body is bent forward; this stretches your entire spine, particularily your cervical vertebrae and shoulders.’
    • ‘The plow pose reduces backache and can help you get to sleep.’


[with object]
  • 1Turn up the earth of (an area of land) with a plow, especially before sowing.

    ‘Uncle Vic plowed his garden’
    ‘a plowed field’
    • ‘I plan to symbolically plough a field in each country in order to meet other farmers and learn new ways of working the land.’
    • ‘Generally, surface compaction only affects one crop year if the field is plowed before the next crop.’
    • ‘Another major emitter of pollution is farming, which releases carbon dioxide when the earth is ploughed and during other activities.’
    • ‘The rest of my time was devoted to ploughing the sun-scorched earth, tanning buffalo hides, and fighting off grizzled-bears with my trusty bowie-knife!’
    • ‘Approximately twice as much land could be ploughed with two ploughteams in a day as with one.’
    • ‘The first of these was uncovered by a farmer ploughing his fields in 1962, and most are dedicated to Dionysus.’
    • ‘The authority is concerned that land is being ploughed in order to prevent access to ramblers who will soon be granted far greater freedoms under coming legislation.’
    • ‘Giving Ching some seeds from the south, Wang Lung tells him that he will help plow Ching's land with the newly bought ox.’
    • ‘It is difficult to plough the land and I have no older children and no uncle to help me.’
    • ‘I was an experienced farmer, able to plow the land, plant, fertilize, weed and cut the sugar cane.’
    • ‘This meant they could raise animals to eat them or to use them for their milk and their hides, and to plow the land to grow crops.’
    • ‘Twenty ferries are slowly being replaced by bridges to connect orderly rural villages where man and buffalo still struggle to plow tiny paddy fields.’
    • ‘The volume of land that is being ploughed each year is getting greater, and the tree loss just that bit more, all conspiring to wash more soil into the river each winter.’
    • ‘To carry out the order, the policemen took a tractor and ploughed up the field.’
    • ‘With the first of the summer rains expected at any time now and hence the need to plough the fields in preparation for sowing, the people do not have any seeds to plant.’
    • ‘If he decides to plough an area that has not been treated in the past ten years, he must consult with Duchas.’
    • ‘Hooper led his men over plowed fields in search of a place to cross the creek.’
    • ‘Most farmers still ploughed the land in the English manner with deep and complete turned furrows.’
    • ‘He remembers that, as a child, while his father plowed a field in an annual ceremony, he was left in the shade of a rose apple tree.’
    • ‘With each spell of rain, farmers plough the fields to prevent weeds from growing.’
    cultivate, till, work, furrow, harrow, ridge, break up, turn up
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Cut (a furrow or line) with or as if with a plow.
      ‘icebergs have plowed furrows on the seabed’
      • ‘He still ploughs with the same enthusiasm of the man who ploughed that first furrow over a half a century ago.’
      • ‘I hope to see polar bears too, but witnessing the ocean solidified into blocks that creak and growl as the ship's ice-strengthened hull ploughs a furrow is enough of a treat.’
      • ‘Makes it a bit hard to plough a straight line when you can't see anything.’
      • ‘A rogue wind ploughs furrows across the Sound of Mull.’
      • ‘‘What shall we do? ‘the mice squealed in horror as they watched the herds plowing deep ruts in the road, destroying many homes as they passed.’
      • ‘My skis straighten, the bottom of the slope rushes at me, and I find myself in a heap, ploughing up a furrow of snow.’
      • ‘Within the vast enclosure of the Altar to the God of Agriculture, the Emperor ploughed the first annual furrow to bless the earth and preserve its fertility.’
      • ‘York's medieval farmers who used to plough a furrow here would still recognise it.’
      • ‘Soccer balls kicked so hard they plow a furrow in the turf are much more original than whatever new weapon or explosion Hollywood is sending out for mass market consumption.’
      • ‘A yoke on oxen prevents them from moving away from each other so that they plough the furrow correctly.’
      • ‘The sled slews to the side, plowing a furrow in the trail-crust.’
      • ‘John struggled to lift his head as his back plowed a furrow across Kathy's lawn.’
      • ‘His sword, made of ancient oak, sliced through the air, its tip ploughing a shallow groove in the earth.’
      plough, drive, bulldoze, cut, carve, make
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 (of a ship or boat) travel through (an area of water)
      ‘cruise liners plow the long-sailed routes’
      • ‘While the boat dug its way through the waves as if arduously ploughing them, I waited, dreamed, and hoped I'd be worthy.’
      • ‘Water taxis and tour boats plow the Riverwalk loop.’
      • ‘The boat herself will tell you how to use the wind and how to plough the waters!’
      • ‘He watched the liner ploughing the foam.’
      • ‘Going back to her tiny quarters, she fell quickly asleep as the ship ploughed its way through the waters of the Atlantic under sullen skies.’
      • ‘He pictured himself on the rolling deck with the wind and the rain in his face and the ship rising to the waves as she ploughed her way westward towards the shores of the USA.’
      • ‘The ship plowed the water, its broad sail bellying before the breeze, the crew enjoying their vacation from the oars.’
  • 2no object, with adverbial of direction (especially of a vehicle) move in a fast and uncontrolled manner.

    ‘the car plowed into the side of a van’
    • ‘Detectives are trying to piece together the mystery behind a series of incidents leading to a four-wheeled drive car ploughing across a field at Witham and into a stock of new vehicles.’
    • ‘A 15-year-old boy was killed in front of his father and brother when a speeding stolen car ploughed into him on a pedestrian crossing.’
    • ‘A 1.5 metre long slab of the brick wall was dislodged after the truck ploughed front-first into the door.’
    • ‘However, while trying to improve his position, Chevrolet driver Alain Menu hit him on the second lap, causing Jaeger to run out of road and plough through the gravel.’
    • ‘As I was crossing Main, a car nearly plowed into me.’
    • ‘A bus driver was hailed a hero today for saving the lives of his passengers when a car ploughed head-on into his bus.’
    • ‘A car had plowed into one cyclist, and when the cyclist fell he caused a group of cyclists to fall, too.’
    • ‘A lorry driver had a lucky escape after his vehicle and a tractor apparently collided and the lorry ploughed into a hedge.’
    • ‘The incident happened on September 1, when a driver careered off a road adjoining the lake, crashing through a drystone wall and ploughing into the water.’
    • ‘A young couple from Scotland died when their sightseeing aircraft ploughed into a mountainside in New Zealand.’
    • ‘A teenage driver who was critically injured when his car ploughed into railings outside a house has died in hospital.’
    • ‘The car in which Emma was travelling ploughed into a field between Otley and Harrogate in November 2003.’
    • ‘Last week a car ploughed into a lamp post leaving two men fighting for their lives, although it has not been suggested the car was speeding.’
    • ‘On a cold winter night, a mother driving with her children loses control of her car, plows off the road and crunches into a rock.’
    • ‘Then, last Wednesday, A Mercedes-Benz station wagon plowed nearly full speed into the back of our car while it was stopped at a traffic light.’
    • ‘She died in hospital from the injuries she suffered when three vehicles ploughed into the car on a busy dual carriageway near Malton.’
    • ‘As it begins to look as though the plane will plough into the water, panicked screams fill the cabin.’
    • ‘All the adults had died instantly when the cars they were travelling in ploughed into a wall.’
    • ‘A family watching late-night television got the shock of their lives when a car ploughed into their hallway.’
    • ‘Each time a car ploughs through the hedge, Mr Painter is left with the bill to fix it, which can cost up to £1,000.’
    career, plunge, crash, smash, bulldoze, hurtle, cannon, lurch, drive, run, careen
    crash into, smash into, collide with, be in collision with, hit, strike, ram, smack into, slam into, bang into, meet head-on, run into, drive into, bump into, crack against, crack into
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 Advance or progress laboriously or forcibly.
      ‘they plowed their way through deep snow’
      ‘the students are plowing through a set of grammar exercises’
      • ‘However, nothing could have prepared them for the additional problems caused by heavy traffic as it ploughed through the deep water.’
      • ‘So here's my advice, if you don't feel like plowing through pages and pages of this novel: read the prologue and Chapter 1.’
      • ‘Yes, I had trouble plowing through the first season after the gang went to college but freshman year is supposed to be hell.’
      • ‘But even then, Newport would win the line-out and plough down field.’
      • ‘He cursed again and plowed through the water, trying to gain extra momentum by throwing his arms back and forth.’
      • ‘Three or four times he cruised low over the sea to give me a glimpse of the whales as they ploughed through the water on their way to give birth in the Mozambique Channel.’
      • ‘The column is a little hard to read since the Times website has inexplicably removed all the paragraph breaks, but it's worth plowing through anyway.’
      • ‘The Glacier Express is the most famous of several rail journeys that plough through the snow-encrusted Alps.’
      • ‘But a web spider crawls the web for you, plowing through page after page, relentlessly extracting links, page titles, page sizes, and even keywords.’
      • ‘‘It's easy in Ireland to stay off the radar and just plough away, doing what you do’, he said.’
      • ‘Relief only came - too late for some - on Friday afternoon when a convoy of trucks carrying food and water supplies ploughed through the flood waters.’
      • ‘Back when I was an editor at HBR, I spent a lot of time plowing through turgid academic papers trying to turn up nuggets of practical wisdom.’
      • ‘I'm still plowing through the boxes of stuff, and came across a book I swiped from my parents' shelf: a ‘Red Primer for Children and Diplomats.’’
      • ‘My friend Earl and I spent this evening plowing through crates of old videotapes that I've had in storage for, in some cases, two decades.’
      • ‘In he jumped, goggles on, and then proceeded to plough through the water doing a very bad and splashy front crawl.’
      • ‘As the hurricane plowed across the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico last week, it exploded into the third-most powerful hurricane on record for the Atlantic Basin.’
      • ‘I'm still plowing through the Anita Blake books - I'm near the end of book five tonight, and I have every intention of finishing it.’
      • ‘Tomaz continued, alone, plowing through waist-high snowdrifts, to the 26,504-foot summit.’
      • ‘As with any verbatim transcript, it can be a little hard to follow in places, but it's worth plowing through the whole thing if you're really interested in all this.’
      • ‘We're trying to get this recovery going by plowing through the paperwork requirements, as fast as possible, so that we can reduce the frustrations here.’
      trudge, plod, toil, clump, push one's way, wade, flounder, press, move laboriously
      persevere, persist, continue, carry on, go on, keep at it, keep on, keep going, keep it up, not give up, be persistent, be determined, follow something through, see something through, show determination, press ahead, press on, plod on, stay with something, not take no for an answer
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2plow on Continue steadily despite difficulties or warnings to stop.
      ‘he plowed on, trying to outline his plans’
      • ‘So we gave up and I ploughed on with the Mitford sisters biography - which is actually far less interesting than the fictionalised versions in Nancy Mitford's novels.’
      • ‘I think I'll plow on with it tonight and produce a finished version, then I can refine a version tomorrow.’
      • ‘He just puts one foot in front of another and ploughs on regardless.’
      • ‘If circumstances change they just find a new rationale and plow on.’
      • ‘She took a breath and plowed on, despite her mind's pleas to stop talking.’
      • ‘Runners in the half marathon in March ploughed on through tough weather conditions and continuous rain to get round the 12-mile course.’
      • ‘For years, people thought we were cranks, but we just kept ploughing on.’
      • ‘‘Don't worry about that’ said Daniella, and ploughed on with the next question.’
      • ‘So I'm going to do what I always do and just plow on through and fix things as I see they need fixing.’
      • ‘So, I put my fears down to beginners' nerves and ploughed on.’
      • ‘This came as such a shock because in public life one just ploughs on day after day, week after week, month after month and the years roll on.’
      • ‘He will plough on with the inevitable consequence of more and more soldiers dead.’
      • ‘But he had to wait for more than a decade before the next score, and even then he ploughed on enthusiastically until last month for the next.’
      • ‘Despite recent closures of his restaurants, his culinary mission ploughs on.’
      • ‘However, despite having seen this scenario on so many occasions, councils continue to plough on with these futile policies, convincing themselves that ‘this time will be different’.’
      • ‘The two made it to shelter and we ploughed on towards a border post.’
      • ‘I had to hug the microphone to my chest to stop it shaking in my hands and plowed on with sending up the outgoing president and all those associated with the conference.’
      • ‘But she ploughed on and landed a job doing interviews at this year's T in the Park, where she met fellow Scottish music television presenter Edith Bowman.’
      • ‘Undeterred he ploughs on, and all are soon engaged in jolly banter.’
      • ‘He has always thought it better to continue ploughing on in relative anonymity on the clay court circuit than to prepare for the world's only major grass court event.’
      persevere, continue, carry on, go on, keep at it, keep on, keep going, keep it up, not give up, be persistent, be determined, follow something through, see something through, show determination, press ahead, press on, plod on, plough on, stay with something, not take no for an answer
      persevere, persist, continue, carry on, go on, keep at it, keep on, keep going, keep it up, not give up, be persistent, be determined, follow something through, see something through, show determination, press ahead, press on, plod on, stay with something, not take no for an answer
      View synonyms
  • 3North American Clear snow from (a road) using a snowplow.

    ‘the roads weren't yet plowed’
    • ‘Still, when it snowed the road had to be plowed or it was impassable, and in the summer the dust whirled.’
    • ‘The chief has so much impact - whether or not you get water, whether your mother's driveway is ploughed.’
    • ‘Mind you, not every city in the country spends a bundle on a fancy main square downtown at the cost of plowed streets in the winter.’
    • ‘In fact, we'd already been trapped once that winter and had had to hire a neighbor to plow the driveway.’
    • ‘If Anderson had not allowed visitors to tour the park on snowmobiles, political pressures would most likely have forced him to plow the roads.’
    • ‘The road is plowed all winter so one can park a vehicle within 20 meters of the climbs.’
    • ‘Of course the road hadn't been plowed yet, so as I approached it I picked up speed, hoping momentum and all-wheel drive would suffice.’
    • ‘The government's next responsibility is to plow streets so I can get out of my driveway and emergency personnel can use the streets.’
    • ‘I'm quite snowed in, because the street is not plowed, so it's a good day to plow through those exams.’
    • ‘Over 30 km of roads are ploughed by the Swedish Road Administration to allow vehicles to move freely across the sea.’
    • ‘It would probably take them a week to be able to shovel out a snowplow so it can plow the main roads, never mind the secondary streets.’
    • ‘As snow continued to fall in January and February, the battalion was kept busy plowing access roads to the sites.’
    • ‘As the storm ended, Turner thought no day skiers would venture out, but as soon as Giuliani plowed the road, a line of waiting cars followed him back to the lodge.’
    • ‘It was a snowy evening in Cleveland and the roads were covered and had not yet been plowed.’
    • ‘The roads had been plowed, so they would be traveling alongside the roads across the banked snow, and some of the still untouched snow.’
    • ‘We'd be happy to distribute maps, publish guidebooks, plow roads, and build trailheads.’
    • ‘This can hold the frost in the road until the cold temperatures return and the road can again be plowed.’
    • ‘The concern seemed to be limited to knowing where his home was and whether the road he was on would be plowed in the winter so that there would not be downtime for the rig.’
    • ‘Good thing the City finally decided to spend some damn money on plowing the roads, because there's gonna be a lot of tour buses coming through here before spring.’
    • ‘One hotly debated alternative proposes plowing the road from West Yellowstone to Old Faithful for mass-transit vehicles, and closing it to snowmobiles.’
  • 4British dated, informal Fail (an examination).

    • ‘Not many people plough Greats at 21 and become a professor of Latin at 33.’


  • plow a lonely (or one's own) furrow

    • Follow a course of action in which one is isolated or in which one can act independently.

      • ‘A latecomer to rugby, he has always ploughed his own furrow.’
      • ‘They are surrounded by some of the smartest, most cutting edge restaurants in town but, as Mills puts it, ‘Food-wise we plough our own furrow’.’
      • ‘For far too long McGrath has ploughed a lonely furrow, been the shining light for Waterford without the adequate support but not this year.’
      • ‘Many collectors are fiercely independent and plough their own furrow.’
      • ‘I think the experience of the last few years really has been that we do better when we plough our own furrow as a party.’
      • ‘Elected to the Dáil in 1981, he has won the respect of many, at times ploughing a lonely furrow as an unabashed socialist and campaigner on international issues.’
      • ‘Since then Alison has been in and out of the public spotlight, but has always ploughed her own furrow through the music wilderness.’
      • ‘They're so divorced from any other music right now, plowing their own furrow, yet still intimately connected to the fabric of contemporary culture.’
      • ‘McMurdo shrugs happily and says she prefers to plough her own furrow unhindered by media hype.’
      • ‘Willoughby's determination to plow his own furrow gave every appearance of being a separate and discordant maneuver by radical back-bench peers.’
  • put (or set) one's hand to the plow

    • Embark on a task.

      • ‘The farmer put his hand to the plough to find brides for lonely country men.’
      • ‘There is no room for nostalgia, no looking back once we have put our hand to the plough.’
      make a start, begin, make a beginning, take the first step, lay the first stone, make the first move, get going, go ahead, set things moving, take something forward, buckle down, buckle to, turn to, put one's shoulder to the wheel, put one's hand to the plough, get the ball rolling, set the ball rolling, start the ball rolling
      View synonyms

Phrasal Verbs

  • plow something in/back

    • 1Plow grass or other material into the soil to enrich it.

      • ‘Many cereal growers instead of baling straw chopped it up and ploughed it in as prices were poor.’
      • ‘A worrying factor will be the availability of straw this autumn as balers cannot get on to land and farmers may be forced to chop and plough it back.’
      • ‘Once the work is done, the mulch can be plowed in and grass can be planted.’
      • ‘In 1933 alone, $100 million was paid out to cotton farmers to plough their crop back into the ground!’
      1. 1.1Invest money in a business or reinvest profits in the enterprise producing them.
        ‘savings made through greater efficiency will be plowed back into the service’
        • ‘Under Home Office rules police could only plough back fines into road safety improvements if offenders were caught on cameras.’
        • ‘In Yellowstone, we turned a large number of campground operations over to a concessionaire and plowed the income back into campground facilities.’
        • ‘Of course, a proportion of those savings were ploughed back into the sport through the Dive Aid Foundation.’
        • ‘If we fail to raise enough and they can't find a suitable private finance partner, no doubt we'll lose that money too and it will be ploughed in to pay for someone else's hospital.’
        • ‘Both were working and ploughing their earnings back into the home and into comforts for their only child.’
        • ‘She has been using a sports psychologist and almost all her prize money has been ploughed back into helping her career.’
        • ‘Should the cut materialize, he said, he would plough the savings back into his company to buy new equipment and hire 30 additional employees.’
        • ‘Camelot, which has ploughed thousands in lottery profits into the four in which Pinsent and Cracknell will now row, may have stumbled on a bonanza of big-screen proportions.’
        • ‘Market revenues are ploughed back into the market-strong areas or used to augment the corporate side of university operations.’
        • ‘Monetary prizes have been ploughed back into the schools and their projects.’
        invest in, put money into, sink money into, lay out money on
        View synonyms
  • plow under

    • Bury in the soil by plowing.

      • ‘All perennial weeds need to be plowed under completely when the field is prepared.’
      • ‘Instead of being cut and sold, the cover crops are plowed under to nourish the soil.’
      • ‘If they guess wrong, an entire crop could left in the field to be plowed under.’
      • ‘And, of course, by not plowing under the crop residue, the farmers save on costs of labor, fuel, tractors, and other equipment.’
      • ‘Straw can be plowed under, but that costs about $8 to $10 an acre.’
  • plow up

    • 1Till (soil) completely or thoroughly.

      • ‘He sees his father plow up the prairie, watches his parents' dreams of agricultural riches pulverized along with the dirt.’
      • ‘When we plow up more land than can be farmed, grade and disrupt natural landscapes, we provide fertile ground for non-native tumbleweeds and exotic invasive plants.’
      • ‘Papa would borrow a tiller from a friend and plow up the patch making room for two rows of twelve plants each.’
      1. 1.1Uncover by plowing.


Late Old English plōh, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch ploeg and German Pflug. The spelling plough became common in England in the 18th century; earlier (16th–17th centuries) the noun was normally spelled plough, the verb plow.