The Meaning of Fodder: What It Is and How To Use It

Have you ever wondered about the definition of fodder? This article will provide you with all of the info you need on the word fodder, including its definition, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word fodder mean?

According to Merriam-Webster Unabridged English Dictionary and Dictionary, the word fodder is a noun that is used to refer to coarse food that is meant for livestock, such as cornstalks, grain, leaves, or other such material. It is also used to refer to people who are considered readily available. The noun fodder can also be used as a verb to mean to feed with fodder. This word is often used figuratively to refer to something that is feeding the masses. For example, a celebrity scandal could be considered fodder for tabloids. Tabloids in turn could be considered fodder for people who are desperate to learn celebrity gossip. This ready, inferior material is used to supply a demand just as physical fodder is used to feed the needs of the animals on a farm.

The word fodder is also present in many other languages. You may notice that many of these words look similar to the word fodder. This is because they have a similar origin. The English language has many different words that have their origins in a variety of languages. The below list of translations for the noun fodder is from Word Sense.

  • Võro: süüt‎
  • Slovene: krma‎ (fem.)
  • Bulgarian: фураж‎
  • Greek: χορτονομή‎ (fem.)
  • Slovak: krmivo‎ (neut.), krm‎ (masc.)
  • Polish: karma‎ (fem.) (for pets), obrok‎ (masc.) (for horses), pasza‎ (fem.) (for other animals)
  • Dutch: veevoeder‎ (neut.), veevoer‎, kanonnenvoer‎ (cannon fodder)
  • Chinese – Mandarin: 飼料‎, 饲料‎ (sìliào)
  • Serbo-Croatian – Cyrillic: крма‎, крмиво‎, сплачина‎, помиjа‎
  • Georgian: საკვები‎
  • Finnish: rehu‎
  • German: Futter‎ (neut.)
  • French: fourrage‎ (masc.)
  • Korean: 꼴‎ (kkol) (grass), 먹이‎ (meogi), 사료‎
  • Armenian: կեր‎, դարման‎
  • Turkish: yem‎
  • Danish: foder‎ (neut.)
  • Kurdish – Sorani: ئالیک‎ (alik)
  • Macedonian: крма‎ (fem.), сточна храна‎ (fem.), помија‎ (fem.)
  • Romanian: furaj‎, nutreț‎, strânsură‎
  • Hungarian: abrak‎, takarmány‎
  • Faroese: fóður‎ (neut.)
  • Portuguese: forragem‎ (fem.)
  • Japanese: 餌‎ (えさ, esa; え, e), 飼料‎ (しりょう, shiryō)
  • Catalan: farratge‎ (fem.), pinso‎ (masc.)
  • Welsh: ebran‎ (masc.), porthiant‎ (masc.)
  • Norman: fouôrrage‎ (masc.)
  • Zazaki: alef‎ (neut.)
  • Spanish: forraje‎ (masc.), pienso‎ (masc.)
  • Kannada: ಪ್ರಾಣಿಗಳ ಆಹಾರ‎
  • Russian: корм‎ (masc.), фура́ж‎ (masc.)
  • Lower Sorbian: kjarm‎ (masc.)
  • Latin: cibus‎, pābulum‎ (neut.)
  • Czech: krmivo‎ (neut.)
  • Galician: forraxe‎ (fem.)
  • Estonian: sööt‎
  • Italian: foraggio‎ (masc.), biada‎ (fem.)
  • Swedish: foder‎ (neut.)

What is the etymology of the word fodder?

According to Etymonline, the word fodder comes from the Old English fōdor, which means food. This word is especially used to refer to hay, straw, or other coarse food, raw material, or bulk products that are used to feed livestock or other farm animals. This word comes from the Proto-Germanic fordham which is also the source of the Old Norse foðr, Middle Dutch voeder, Old High German fuotar, and German futter. This word comes from the Proto-Indo-European root pa-trom, which is a suffixed form of the root pa- meaning “to feed.” From this, we also get the word forage, which means to search and hunt for food. Related words include foddered and foddering.

What are synonyms for the word fodder?

There are many different words that can be used in place of the word fodder. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that mean the same thing or have the sem definition as another word or phrase. Synonyms are useful to know if you are looking to expand your vocabulary or if you want to avoid repeating yourself. The below list of synonyms for the word fodder is provided by Thesaurus

  • barley
  • hay
  • provisions
  • pasturage
  • forage
  • meal
  • vittles
  • grain
  • grub
  • silage
  • grass
  • food
  • provender
  • animal food
  • corn

How can the word fodder be used in a sentence?

The word fodder can be used in multiple different ways. IT can both be used literally to refer to the food that domesticated animals such as livestock eat, or it can be used figuratively to refer to something that is feeding the masses. In this first example, it will be used to refer to the physical food that is used to feed livestock. Kelsey and Anna are playing a video game in which Kelsey’s character runs a farm. 

Anna: What are you doing there?

Kelsey: I’m cutting down the tall grass. Then when I put it in the silo, it becomes fodder for the animals. This way you can feed them. If you feed them by hand they like you more and they’ll produce higher quality milk and eggs that you can sell. 

Anna: Cool!

In this next example, Kelsey and Anna are perusing the shelves at their local bookstore. They pass a display of romance novels.

Kelsey: Ugh, gross.

Anna: What’s gross?

Kelsey: Every romance novel looks the same Big hulking dude with long hair on the cover hoists tiny, dainty woman over his shoulder. It’s complete fodder for the masses.

Anna: Sure, it might not be the most groundbreaking stuff, but I think a lot of people like to tuck into bed with a nice book and escape. We Shouldn’t be too quick to judge.

Kelsey: You’re right. I’m sure people would think the same about my farming videogame. Maybe I’ll pick one of these up!

Overall, the word fodder is a noun that means some raw material or source used to feed livestock or other domestic animals. This term can also be used figuratively to refer to some trashy material that is used to satisfy the masses, like a cheesy romantic plotline in a bad romance novel or celebrity gossip in a tabloid. 

Sources:

  1. https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/fodder
  2. https://www.wordsense.eu/fodder/
  3. https://www.etymonline.com/word/fodder
  4. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fodder#:~:text=1%20%3A%20something%20fed%20to%20domestic,fodder%20for%20novelists%20and%20screenwriters%20%E2%80%A6%E2%80%94
  5. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/fodder