a cereal grass, Avena sativa, cultivated for its edible seed.
Usually, oats. (used with a singular or plural verb) the seed of this plant, used as a food for humans and animals.
any of several plants of the same genus, as the wild oat.
Archaic. a musical pipe made of an oat straw.
feel one's oats, Informal.
to feel frisky or lively.
to be aware of and use one's importance or power.
sow one's wild oats. wild oat ( def 3 ).

before 900; Middle English ote, Old English āte

oatlike, adjective
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
oat (əʊt)
1.  an erect annual grass, Avena sativa, grown in temperate regions for its edible seed
2.  (usually plural) the seeds or fruits of this grass
3.  any of various other grasses of the genus Avena, such as the wild oat
4.  poetic a flute made from an oat straw
5.  informal (US), (Canadian) feel one's oats
 a.  to feel exuberant
 b.  to feel self-important
6.  slang get one's oats to have sexual intercourse
7.  sow one's oats, sow one's wild oats to indulge in adventure or promiscuity during youth
[Old English āte, of obscure origin]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. ate "grain of the oat plant" (pl. atan), possibly from O.N. eitill "nodule," denoting a single grain, of unknown origin. The usual Gmc. name is derived from P.Gmc. *khabran (cf. O.N. hafri, Du. haver, source of haversack). Famously defined by Johnson as, "A grain, which in England is generally given
to horses, but in Scotland supports the people." Wild oats, "crop that one will regret sowing," is first attested 1564, in ref. to the folly of sowing these instead of good grain.
"That wilfull and vnruly age, which lacketh rypenes and discretion, and (as wee saye) hath not sowed all theyr wyeld Oates." [Thomas Newton, "Lemnie's Touchstone of complexions," 1576]
Hence, to feel (one's) oats "be lively," 1831, originally Amer.Eng.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


see feel one's oats; sow one's wild oats.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
They owned a strong and productive horse with one flaw, its need for expensive
Oats and maple also pair nicely in scones, cookies or even beer.
Freshly toasted oats, lightly sweetened with local honey and real maple syrup.
These sinfully rich bars pack the benefits of whole-wheat flour, wheat germ,
  and rolled oats.
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