9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[pil-oh] /ˈpɪl oʊ/
a bag or case made of cloth that is filled with feathers, down, or other soft material, and is used to cushion the head during sleep or rest.
anything used to cushion the head; headrest:
a pillow of moss.
Also called lace pillow. a hard cushion or pad that supports the pattern and threads in the making of bobbin lace.
a supporting piece or part, as the block on which the inner end of a bowsprit rests.
verb (used with object)
to rest on or as on a pillow.
to support with pillows.
to serve as a pillow for:
She pillowed the child with her body.
verb (used without object)
to rest as on a pillow.
Origin of pillow
before 900; Middle English pilwe, Old English pylu < Latin pulvīnus cushion (whence also German Pfühl)
Related forms
pillowless, adjective
pillowlike, adjective
unpillowed, adjective
Can be confused
pillar, pillory, pillow.
1. See cushion. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for pillow
  • Something resembling a pillow seems to bulge out of another casket.
  • Unmarried guests sometimes took home a little piece of cake to tuck under their pillow.
  • At night, his bodyguards heard him chuckling himself to sleep, the rocks stashed carefully under his pillow.
  • And yet any given pillow might house as many as a dozen different kinds of mites, each with a different history and story.
  • Often it's while supine in bed, the laptop precariously balanced on some pillow or edged between their legs.
  • It tastes thick and fills your mouth the way down fills a pillow.
  • There is red hair clouding the pillow, blood-splattered by the slug.
  • Sally propped her pillow against the headboard and lit another cigarette.
  • During his first trip, he hardly slept, preferring headphones to his pillow.
  • Later you will mutter many words into your pillow, but those words will never come back to haunt you.
British Dictionary definitions for pillow


a cloth case stuffed with feathers, foam rubber, etc, used to support the head, esp during sleep
Also called cushion. a padded cushion or board on which pillow lace is made
anything like a pillow in shape or function
verb (transitive)
to rest (one's head) on or as if on a pillow
to serve as a pillow for
Word Origin
Old English pylwe, from Latin pulvīnus cushion; compare German Pfühl
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 pillow

Middle English pilwe, from Old English pyle "pillow," from West Germanic *pulwi(n) (cf. Old Saxon puli, Middle Dutch polu, Dutch peluw, Old High German pfuliwi, German Pfühl), an early borrowing (2c. or 3c.) from Latin pulvinus "little cushion, small pillow," of uncertain origin. Modern spelling is from mid-15c. Pillow fight (n.) attested from 1837; slang pillow talk (n.) first recorded 1939.


1620s, from pillow (n.). Related: Pillowed; pillowing.

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


  1. A boxing glove (1900+ Prizefight)
  2. A base; bag, sack (1940s+ Baseball)

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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