Middle English shep-herd, "man who leads, tends, and guards sheep in a pasture," from Old English sceaphierde, from sceap "sheep" (see sheep) + hierde "herder," from heord "a herd" (see herd (n.)). Similar formation in Middle Low German, Middle Dutch schaphirde, Middle High German schafhirte, German dialectal Schafhirt.
Shepherds customarily were buried with a tuft of wool in hand, to prove on Doomsday their occupation and be excused for often missing Sunday church. Shepherd's pie is recorded from 1877; so called because the meat in it was typically mutton or lamb.
The shepherd's pie, a dish of minced meat with a topping, first surfaces in the 1870s, roughly contemporaneously with the mincing machine which did so much to help establish it in the British cook's repertoire. [Ayto, "Diner's Dictionary"]
1790, "to tend, guard, and watch sheep," from shepherd (n.). The metaphoric sense of "watch over or guide" is attested by 1820. Related: Shepherded; shepherding.
updated on August 21, 2022