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[hoo f, hoof] /hʊf, huf/
noun, plural hoofs or hooves for 1, 2, 4; hoof for 3.
the horny covering protecting the ends of the digits or encasing the foot in certain animals, as the ox and horse.
the entire foot of a horse, donkey, etc.
Older Use. a hoofed animal, especially one of a herd.
Informal. the human foot.
verb (used with object)
Slang. to walk (often followed by it):
Let's hoof it to the supermarket.
verb (used without object)
Slang. to dance, especially to tap-dance:
He's been hoofing at the Palladium.
Idioms, plural hoof.
on the hoof, (of livestock) not butchered; live:
The city youngsters were seeing lambs on the hoof for the first time.
Origin of hoof
before 1000; Middle English (noun); Old English hōf; cognate with Old Frisian hōf, Dutch hoef, German Huf, Old Norse hōfr; compare Sanskrit śaphas
Related forms
hoofiness, noun
hoofless, adjective
hooflike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for hoof
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • From my perception, then, of hoof or sound I apperceive cow.

  • "Spoils the hoof to put the knife on the sole, Buck," said the smith.

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • But, before entering upon it, it appears to us necessary to rapidly examine what the hoof contains (Fig. 95).

  • He had got for himself a hoof and part of the shin-bone, to which quite a bit of meat was attached.

    White Fang Jack London
  • But when they heard the hoof beats of Sir Launcelot's great horse, they ran outside to greet him.

    The Jumble Book David Cory
  • His horns are thick, short, and black; and his hoof is also black.

    The History of Louisiana Le Page Du Pratz
  • A woman's hand, in a glove, must be about as thrilling to kiss as a mare's hoof.

    Kildares of Storm Eleanor Mercein Kelly
British Dictionary definitions for hoof


noun (pl) hooves (huːvz), hoofs
  1. the horny covering of the end of the foot in the horse, deer, and all other ungulate mammals
  2. (in combination): a hoofbeat, related adjective ungular
the foot of an ungulate mammal
a hoofed animal
(facetious) a person's foot
on the hoof
  1. (of livestock) alive
  2. in an impromptu manner: he did his thinking on the hoof
(transitive) to kick or trample with the hoofs
(slang) hoof it
  1. to walk
  2. to dance
Derived Forms
hoofless, adjective
hooflike, adjective
Word Origin
Old English hōf; related to Old Norse hōfr, Old High German huof (German Huf), Sanskrit saphás
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for hoof

Old English hof "hoof," from Proto-Germanic *hofaz (cf. Old Saxon, Old Frisian hof, Old Norse hofr, Danish hov, Dutch hoef, German Huf "hof"), from PIE *kop- "to beat, strike" (cf. Sanskrit saphah "hoof"). For spelling, see hood (n.1).


"to walk" (hoof it), first attested 1640s, from hoof (n.); slang meaning "to dance" is 1920, American English (implied in hoofer). Related: Hoofed; hoofing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for hoof



A foot: Take your goddam hoof the hell off my fender (1598+)


  1. To walk; hoof it: I better hoof over to the garage (1888+)
  2. To dance: She's hoofing in that show about cats (1921+)

Related Terms

shake a wicked calf

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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hoof in the Bible

a cleft hoof as of neat cattle (Ex. 10:26; Ezek. 32:13); hence also of the horse, though not cloven (Isa. 5:28). The "parting of the hoof" is one of the distinctions between clean and unclean animals (Lev. 11:3; Deut. 14:7).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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