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sow1 / / • v. (past sowed ; past part. sown / sōn/ or sowed) [tr.] plant (seed) by scattering it on or in the earth: fill a pot with compost and sow a thin layer of seeds on top. ∎  plant the seeds of (a plant or crop): the corn had just been sown. ∎  plant (a piece of land) with seed: the field used to be sown with oats. ∎  (be sown with) be thickly covered with: we walked through a valley sown with boulders. ∎  cause to appear or spread: the new policy has sown confusion and doubt. PHRASES: sow the seeds (or seed) of do something that will eventually bring about (a particular result, esp. a disastrous one): the seeds of dissension had been sown.DERIVATIVES: sow·er n. sow2 / sou/ • n. 1. an adult female pig, esp. one that has farrowed. ∎  the female of certain other mammals, e.g., the guinea pig. 2. a large block of metal (larger than a “pig”) made by smelting.

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sow2 plant seed.
as you sow, so you reap proverbial saying, late 15th century; originally with biblical allusion to Galatians 6:7, ‘whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap’, and meaning that you will have to endure the consequences of your actions.
sow dry and set wet proverbial saying for gardeners, mid 17th century, meaning that seeds should be sown in dry ground and then given water; the idea that seeds sown in wet ground will not prosper is expressed in Thomas Tusser's Husbandry (revised edition, 1580), as ‘By sowing in wet, Is little to get.’
sow one's wild oats go through a period of wild or promiscuous behaviour while young, late 16th century; wild oat, a wild grass related to the cultivated oat which was traditionally a weed of cornfields, is recorded from the mid 16th to the early 17th century as a name for a dissolute young man.
they that sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind proverbial saying, late 16th century; originally with biblical allusion to Hosea 8:7, ‘For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind,’ and meaning that those who have initiated a dangerous course must suffer the consequences.

See also sow dragon's teeth, you reap what you sow.

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sow1 a female pig.
have the right sow by the ear have the correct understanding of the situation; recorded from the mid 16th century, the phrase has been attributed to Henry VIII, when in 1529 Thomas Cranmer suggested that in the question of the projected divorce from Catherine of Aragon, the king should consult divines at the universities.
a sow may whistle, though it has an ill mouth for it proverbial saying, early 19th century, meaning that someone not naturally suited to a task will perform it badly.

See also you can't make a silk purse out a sow's ear.

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sow2 pt. sowed, pp. sown scatter or plant seed so that it may grow. OE. str. vb. sāwan, corr. to OS. sāian (Du. zaaien), OHG. sāwen, sā(h)en (G. säen), ON. , Goth. saian; Gmc. *sǣjan. repr. IE. base *sē(j)-, as in L. pt. sēvī (of serere), and in SEED

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sow1 female swine OE.; structure to cover a besieging force XIII; (prob. after Du.) oblong mass of metal XVI. OE. sugu = OS. suga, MLG., MDu. soge (Du. zeug), rel. to OE., OHG. (G. sau), ON. sýr; f. IE. base *sū̆-, repr. also by L. sūs pig, Gr. hûs, etc.; cf. SWINE

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