Definition of tom in English:



  • 1The male of various animals, especially a turkey or domestic cat.

    • ‘The four-year-old ginger tom moved to the town with owner Sara in January.’
    • ‘The kittens would follow the tom around and when we trapped the last one of them he cried at our door for two days.’
    • ‘If the problem is hormone related then neutering is usually an effective solution, especially with troublesome toms!’
    • ‘Some male wildcats mate with domestic females, but the half-breeds rarely survive either because the wild tom returns to kill the kittens as soon as they are born, or householders distrusting their untameable reputation do the same.’
    • ‘While the tabby slumped down to mew her pain the tom rampaged among the females and the other nestlings, tearing throats, breaking knees and elbows, and tossing the smaller ones against the closet wall.’
    • ‘I donate financially, and have purchased two rescued cats (one adult tom, and one kitten) from you.’
    • ‘You will find that the tom will stop spraying his smelly urine to mark his territory.’
    • ‘In the same week a ginger tom called Bat was accused of attacking postmen in Kent.’
    • ‘While hens usually travel together, toms roam either in separate flocks or alone.’
    • ‘The resulting difference in size between males, or toms, and females, or hens, requires producers to rely solely on artificial insemination for reproduction.’
    • ‘There are tabbies and toms in white, black, grey and ginger.’
    • ‘The tom met with an unfortunate accident - sadly after I chased him out of the house he bolted in front of a car.’
    • ‘Susie took up with a local tom and had a litter of two, a male and a female.’
    • ‘And spaying for females is the same: they remove the whole plumbing system to keep the animal from going into heat and attracting toms and annoying its owner.’
    • ‘Fritz is a ginger tom of nine and a half months.’
    • ‘The hens would be in the low teens, 16 or 17 pounds, and the toms would dress out at 28 pounds.’
  • 2US informal

    short for Uncle Tom


derogatory, informal
  • (of a black person) behave in an excessively obedient or servile way.


Late Middle English (denoting an ordinary man, surviving in tomfool, tomboy, and the phrase Tom, Dick, and Harry): abbreviation of the given name Thomas. tom dates from the mid 18th century.