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[hawrs-shoo, hawrsh-] /ˈhɔrsˌʃu, ˈhɔrʃ-/
a U -shaped metal plate, plain or with calks, nailed to a horse's hoof to protect it from being injured by hard or rough surfaces.
something U -shaped, as a valley, river bend, or other natural feature:
We picnicked in the middle of a horseshoe of trees.
horseshoes, (used with a singular verb) a game in which horseshoes or other U -shaped pieces of metal, plastic, etc., are tossed at an iron stake 30 or 40 feet (9 or 12 meters) away in order to encircle it or to come closer to it than one's opponent.
verb (used with object), horseshoed, horseshoeing.
to put a horseshoe or horseshoes on.
having the shape of a horseshoe; U -shaped:
a horseshoe bend in the river.
1350-1400; Middle English. See horse, shoe
Related forms
horseshoer, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for horseshoe
  • The tasters sit in clusters of three around tables arranged in horseshoe shape.
  • Follow the arc of that horseshoe and the cliffs peer over you all the way, forbidding and beckoning at once.
  • Some paleontologists even suggested that they were from the shell of a creature resembling a horseshoe crab.
  • The seifs themselves can break up and form the horseshoe-shaped dunes called barchans.
  • It yielded--as the sun sank lower and a touch of cool began to pervade the airy horseshoe.
  • The form of the theatre, a huge horseshoe shape, ensured that this was so.
  • The restrooms were in a horseshoe-shaped blind alley.
  • Early on, horseshoe crabs were harvested primarily for fertilizer and animal feed.
  • The horseshoe arrangement of the members seats within the chamber is unique in canada.
British Dictionary definitions for horseshoe


a piece of iron shaped like a U with the ends curving inwards that is nailed to the underside of the hoof of a horse to protect the soft part of the foot from hard surfaces: commonly thought to be a token of good luck
an object of similar shape
verb -shoes, -shoeing, -shoed
(transitive) to fit with a horseshoe; shoe
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for horseshoe

late 14c. (early 13c. as a proper name), from horse (n.) + shoe (n.). Horseshoes as another name for the game of quoits, attested by 1822.

HORSE-SHOES, the game of coits, or quoits--because sometimes actually played with horse-shoes. [John Trotter Brockett, "A Glossary of North Country Words," 1829]
The belief that finding a horseshoe by chance is lucky is attested from late 14c., and the practice of nailing one above a doorway to prevent a witch entering therein was common in London down to c.1800. Of a type of bend in a river, 1770, American English. As a type of crab, from 1775.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for horseshoe

U-shaped metal plate by which horses' hooves are protected from wear on hard or rough surfaces. Horseshoes apparently are a Roman invention; a mule's loss of its shoe is mentioned by the Roman poet Catullus in the 1st century BC.

Learn more about horseshoe with a free trial on
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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