Definition of plow in English:


(British plough)

Pronunciation /plou/ /plaʊ/

Translate plow into Spanish


  • 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.

    ‘The strip shape of these plots suggests that they were ploughed with a heavy plough with a fixed mould board.’
    • ‘We could spend a lot of time talking about precision adjustments for plows, tillage implements, grain drills, and combines.’
    • ‘But like those in the first, they sow this new seed in traditional furrows and with traditional plows.’
    • ‘The removal of the age-old plough from farming could lead to a major drop in pollution in rivers and lakes, according to environmentalists.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Motors and lifting straps can fail because crewmembers attempt to lift the plow while the blades are full of dirt and debris.’
    • ‘In the nearby field, a heavily yoked yak drags the wooden plough through the rocky soil to the singsong tune of his master.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Cotton seed should not be planted behind the plough, as is the case when planting maize or groundnuts.’
    • ‘As a result, small farmers can no longer obtain the plows, seed-drills, fertilizer, or high-quality seed they used to receive on credit.’
    • ‘Ben uses a horse and a two-handled, V-shaped, walk-behind plow for turning the soil.’
    • ‘One Ethiopian study showed that heavy clay soils which could not be worked with wooden ploughs became fertile when steel was used.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Well, it's off to the equipment shop to rebuild the plow for our fall plowing operations.’
    • ‘In September, men prepare the fields with plows pulled by oxen while women do the sowing.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 1.1North American A snowplow.
      ‘Thankfully, she'd parked in his wide driveway so no one would have to worry about a plow sideswiping her car during the night.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 2

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

transitive verb

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

    ‘Uncle Vic plowed his garden’
    • ‘With each spell of rain, farmers plough the fields to prevent weeds from growing.’
    • ‘If he decides to plough an area that has not been treated in the past ten years, he must consult with Duchas.’
    • ‘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!’
    • ‘Hooper led his men over plowed fields in search of a place to cross the creek.’
    • ‘Approximately twice as much land could be ploughed with two ploughteams in a day as with one.’
    • ‘To carry out the order, the policemen took a tractor and ploughed up the field.’
    • ‘It is difficult to plough the land and I have no older children and no uncle to help me.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I was an experienced farmer, able to plow the land, plant, fertilize, weed and cut the sugar cane.’
    • ‘The first of these was uncovered by a farmer ploughing his fields in 1962, and most are dedicated to Dionysus.’
    • ‘Twenty ferries are slowly being replaced by bridges to connect orderly rural villages where man and buffalo still struggle to plow tiny paddy fields.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I plan to symbolically plough a field in each country in order to meet other farmers and learn new ways of working the land.’
    • ‘Giving Ching some seeds from the south, Wang Lung tells him that he will help plow Ching's land with the newly bought ox.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Generally, surface compaction only affects one crop year if the field is plowed before the next crop.’
    cultivate, till, work, furrow, harrow, ridge, break up, turn up
    1. 1.1Cut (a furrow or line) with or as if with a plow.
      ‘icebergs have plowed furrows on the seabed’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He still ploughs with the same enthusiasm of the man who ploughed that first furrow over a half a century ago.’
      • ‘York's medieval farmers who used to plough a furrow here would still recognise it.’
      • ‘John struggled to lift his head as his back plowed a furrow across Kathy's lawn.’
      • ‘A yoke on oxen prevents them from moving away from each other so that they plough the furrow correctly.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The sled slews to the side, plowing a furrow in the trail-crust.’
      • ‘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
    2. 1.2(of a ship or boat) travel through (an area of water)
      ‘cruise liners plow the long-sailed routes’
      • ‘The ship plowed the water, its broad sail bellying before the breeze, the crew enjoying their vacation from the oars.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The boat herself will tell you how to use the wind and how to plough the waters!’
      • ‘He watched the liner ploughing the foam.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 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’
    • ‘She died in hospital from the injuries she suffered when three vehicles ploughed into the car on a busy dual carriageway near Malton.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘As it begins to look as though the plane will plough into the water, panicked screams fill the cabin.’
    • ‘The car in which Emma was travelling ploughed into a field between Otley and Harrogate in November 2003.’
    • ‘A lorry driver had a lucky escape after his vehicle and a tractor apparently collided and the lorry ploughed into a hedge.’
    • ‘A car had plowed into one cyclist, and when the cyclist fell he caused a group of cyclists to fall, too.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A 1.5 metre long slab of the brick wall was dislodged after the truck ploughed front-first into the door.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 bus driver was hailed a hero today for saving the lives of his passengers when a car ploughed head-on into his bus.’
    • ‘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 family watching late-night television got the shock of their lives when a car ploughed into their hallway.’
    • ‘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 young couple from Scotland died when their sightseeing aircraft ploughed into a mountainside in New Zealand.’
    • ‘All the adults had died instantly when the cars they were travelling in ploughed into a wall.’
    • ‘A teenage driver who was critically injured when his car ploughed into railings outside a house has died in hospital.’
    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
    1. 2.1Advance or progress laboriously or forcibly.
      ‘they plowed their way through deep snow’
      • ‘the students are plowing through a set of grammar exercises’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’’
      • ‘Tomaz continued, alone, plowing through waist-high snowdrifts, to the 26,504-foot summit.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Yes, I had trouble plowing through the first season after the gang went to college but freshman year is supposed to be hell.’
      • ‘But a web spider crawls the web for you, plowing through page after page, relentlessly extracting links, page titles, page sizes, and even keywords.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But even then, Newport would win the line-out and plough down field.’
      • ‘‘It's easy in Ireland to stay off the radar and just plough away, doing what you do’, he said.’
      • ‘In he jumped, goggles on, and then proceeded to plough through the water doing a very bad and splashy front crawl.’
      • ‘However, nothing could have prepared them for the additional problems caused by heavy traffic as it ploughed through the deep water.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He cursed again and plowed through the water, trying to gain extra momentum by throwing his arms back and forth.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The Glacier Express is the most famous of several rail journeys that plough through the snow-encrusted Alps.’
      • ‘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.’
      trudge, plod, toil, clump, push one's way, wade, flounder, press, move laboriously
  • 3North American Clear snow from (a road) using a snowplow.

    ‘the roads weren't yet plowed’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The road is plowed all winter so one can park a vehicle within 20 meters of the climbs.’
    • ‘I'm quite snowed in, because the street is not plowed, so it's a good day to plow through those exams.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘If Anderson had not allowed visitors to tour the park on snowmobiles, political pressures would most likely have forced him to plow the roads.’
    • ‘We'd be happy to distribute maps, publish guidebooks, plow roads, and build trailheads.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘One hotly debated alternative proposes plowing the road from West Yellowstone to Old Faithful for mass-transit vehicles, and closing it to snowmobiles.’
    • ‘Over 30 km of roads are ploughed by the Swedish Road Administration to allow vehicles to move freely across the sea.’
    • ‘Still, when it snowed the road had to be plowed or it was impassable, and in the summer the dust whirled.’
    • ‘The government's next responsibility is to plow streets so I can get out of my driveway and emergency personnel can use the streets.’
    • ‘It was a snowy evening in Cleveland and the roads were covered and had not yet been plowed.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In fact, we'd already been trapped once that winter and had had to hire a neighbor to plow the driveway.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The roads had been plowed, so they would be traveling alongside the roads across the banked snow, and some of the still untouched snow.’
    • ‘The chief has so much impact - whether or not you get water, whether your mother's driveway is ploughed.’
  • 4British informal, dated Fail (an examination).

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


    put one's hand to the plow
    • Embark on a task.

      • ‘she needed a rest, but she had put her hand to the plow’
    plow one's own furrow
    • Follow a course of action in which one is isolated or in which one can act independently.

      • ‘it is more sensible for the college as a whole to act than for individual departments to plow their own furrow’

Phrasal Verbs

    plow on
    • Continue steadily despite difficulties or warnings to stop.

      • ‘he plowed on, trying to outline his plans’
    plow up
    • 1plow something up, plow up somethingTurn up the earth of an area of land with a plow, especially before sowing.

      • ‘the fields had all been plowe up’
    • 2plow something up, plow up somethingUnearth something while using a plow.

      • ‘some day someone will plow up the bomb’
    plow in
    • 1plow something in, plow in somethingInvest money in a business.

      • ‘Chevron has plowed in $12 billion to build out three more oil fields’
    • 2plow something in, plow in somethingPlow grass or other material into the soil to enrich it.

      • ‘clover was grown to plow in as green manure’
    plow back
    • plow something back, plow back somethingReinvest profits in the enterprise producing them.

      • ‘savings made through greater efficiency will be plowed back into the service’
    plow under
    • plow something under, plow under somethingBury something in the soil 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.