herd (n.1)

Old English heord "herd, flock, company of domestic animals," also, rarely, "a keeping, care, custody," from Proto-Germanic *herdo (source also of Old Norse hjorð, Old High German herta, German Herde, Gothic hairda "herd"), from PIE *kerdh- "a row, group, herd" (source also of Sanskrit śárdhah "herd, troop," Old Church Slavonic čreda "herd," Greek korthys "heap," Lithuanian kerdžius "shepherd"). Of any animals, wild or domestic, from c. 1200; of people, often in a disparaging sense, from c. 1400. Herd instinct in psychology is first recorded 1886.

herd (v.)

mid-13c., "to watch over or herd (livestock);" of animals, "gather in a herd, go in a herd, form a flock," late 14c. From herd (n.1). Transitive sense of "to form (animals, people, etc.) into a herd" is from 1590s. Related: Herded; herding.

herd (n.2)

"keeper of a flock of domestic animals," Old English hierde, from the source of herd (v.). Now obsolete except in compounds. Compare Old Saxon hirdi, Middle Dutch hirde, German Hirte, Old Norse hirðir.

updated on July 13, 2015