The Plural of Sheep: Here’s What It Is and How to Use It

If you have ever second-guessed yourself on what the plural form of sheep was and also wanted to learn more about the word or plural nouns in general — you’re in the right place. No longer will you have to wonder if sheeps or sheep is the plural form. This article will cover its grammar, history, and plenty of examples of it used in a sentence, this article is practically made for you!

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What Is the Definition of the Word Sheep?

As phrased by the Merriam Webster dictionary sheep is defined as:

  • Any of various hollow-horned typically gregarious ruminant mammals (genus Ovis) related to the goats but stockier and lacking a beard in the male from the family bovidae
    • Specifically: one (O. aries) long domesticated especially for its flesh and wool
  • A timid defenseless creature
  • A timid docile person
    • Especially: one easily influenced or led
  • Leather prepared from the skins of sheep

What Is the Plural Form of Sheep?

Like as it is with fish or deer, sheep is the plural form of the singular noun sheep as a collective noun. There is an argument to be had that you can also say sheeps strictly when used for biology and discussing different types of biologically different sheep however this is not commonly seen like it is with fishes. Also, there are few cases in the literary past where the irregular plural form sheeps has been used, one by William Shakespeare, however, this also doesn’t mean it is technically the regular plural form of the word sheep.

The History and Origin of the Word

The noun sheep has been used in the English language since at least the 12th century. It comes from Middle English or Old English sceap which is similar to the Old German schaf, which both had the same meaning as our modern English word sheep.

Synonyms for Sheep

  • Angel – a spiritual being superior to humans in power and intelligence
  • Dove – a gentle woman or child, one who takes a conciliatory attitude and advocates negotiations and compromise
  • Innocent – free from legal guilt or fault, free from guilt or sin especially through lack of knowledge of evil 
  • Lamb – a young domestic sheep, especially: one that is less than one year old or without permanent teeth or a gentle or weak person

Antonyms for Sheep

  • Wolf – a man given to seducing women, a person who habitually preys upon a flock of sheep
  • Bully – a person who teases, threatens, or hurts smaller, weaker, or more vulnerable persons
  • Roughneck – a violent, brutal person who is often a member of an organized gang
  • Rowdy – a violent, brutal person who is often a member of an organized gang
  • Tough – not easily chewed
  • Beast – a mean, evil, or unprincipled person
  • Boor – a person whose behavior is offensive to others
  • Cad – a person whose behavior is offensive to others
  • Churl – an awkward or simple person especially from a small town or the country
  • Clown – a comically dressed performer (as at a circus) who entertains with playful tricks and ridiculous behavior
  • Creep – a person whose behavior is offensive to others

Examples of the Word in Context

Five miles south on Pleasants Valley Road, Alexis Koefoed and her husband Eric grow lavender and olives and raise chickens, sheep, goats and cattle at Soul Food Farm.
Esther Mobley, SFChronicle.com, “Wildfires tear through small Vacaville farms, leaving trail of singed lavender fields,” 21 Aug. 2020

The job of such a canine is to bring sheep, geese, ducks or cattle toward a person or to a certain area of the farm while keeping them all together as a group.
Patrick Connolly, orlandosentinel.com, “Work Like a Dog Day: Meet Orlando’s working dogs,” 5 Aug. 2020

Saudi Arabia imports over 3 million heads of goats, sheep, cattle, and camels during the Hajj season, according to a 2019 report by the Veterinary Medicine and Science.
Abdullahi Yussuf, Quartz Africa, “Somalia will lose $500 million this year as its livestock misses out on Hajj to Saudi Arabia,” 28 July 2020

Black Cat Farm encompasses a grain mill, hundreds of pigs and sheep, and some 50 acres of vegetables and herbs.
Josie Sexton, The Denver Post, “Community raises more than $212,000 for Boulder family who lost son in devastating weekend crash,” 28 July 2020

Cattle, deer, sheep, camels and giraffes, among others, are all ruminant mammals.
Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, “Siberian Hunters Cooked in ‘Hot Pots’ at the End of the Last Ice Age,” 7 Feb. 2020

Grand Teton, along with Yellowstone National Park just north, is among the busier U.S. national parks but the Teton Range inhabited by the goats and sheep has few roads and is mostly accessible only by hiking and climbing.
Mead Gruver, Star Tribune, “Grand Teton seeks goat cull help after canceled air shoot,” 6 Aug. 2020

The four-day event started July 29, with three days of youths showing livestock such as poultry, swine, cattle, goats, sheep and rabbits, followed by the sale Saturday.
David Anderson, baltimoresun.com, “Harford youths get record-breaking support at livestock sale with nearly $339,000 raised from buyers,” 4 Aug. 2020

But this year, Somalia’s goats and sheep will not join the pilgrimage because Hajj has effectively been cancelled by Saudi authorities due to the Covid-19 pandemic—only a limited number of locals are allowed to attend Hajj.
Abdullahi Yussuf, Quartz Africa, “Somalia will lose $500 million this year as its livestock misses out on Hajj to Saudi Arabia,” 28 July 2020

Summary

Hopefully, you know are very well versed in all things about the word sheep and how to use the correct plural form in English grammar. 

Sources:

  1. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sheep
  2. https://www.startribune.com/grand-teton-seeks-goat-cull-help-after-canceled-air-shoot/572030212/
  3. https://qz.com/africa/1885939/somalias-goats-sheep-wont-be-on-hajj-to-saudi-arabia-on-covid/
  4. https://www.baltimoresun.com/maryland/harford/aegis/cng-ag-livestock-auction-results-20200804-wjsdgojcqbbz3nvd54h4zf5yru-story.html
  5. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/ancient-siberian-hunters-cooked-hot-pots-end-last-ice-age-180974148/
  6. https://www.denverpost.com/2020/07/28/kelsey-skokan-boulder-death-donate/
  7. https://www.orlandosentinel.com/entertainment/os-et-work-like-a-dog-day-orlando-working-dogs-20200805-dizganugebdabnjgnxpwknkkqa-story.html
  8. https://www.sfchronicle.com/food/article/Wildfires-tear-through-small-Vacaville-farms-15505090.php