English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

What is the difference between shepherding and sheepherding (sheep herding?)?

What is the difference between shepherd and sheepherder?

I had only heard shepherd until I found sheepherder on a page on the California minimum wage.

share|improve this question
It's "sheepherder", not "sheephearder". – Peter Shor Oct 3 '11 at 20:05
Thanks for the corrections. Editing grammar takes on a whole new meaning here compared to the other SE sites! :) – jrdioko Oct 3 '11 at 20:53
@Peter - unless it's a person hired to listen to sheep baa ! – mgb Oct 3 '11 at 21:40
up vote 5 down vote accepted

What is the difference between a shepherd and a sheepherder?

Sheep-herder is "a person who herds sheep in large numbers in unfenced country." It is a word used in USA.
A shepherd is "a person employed to guard, tend, and herd sheep, esecially at pasture; a member of a pastoral people herding and usually owning sheep, etc." Sheperd can also be used in figurative sense as in, "Then the shepherd read, explaining a portion of Scripture."

share|improve this answer

Shepherding is also widely used in a general sense of guiding, helping or looking after. "He shepherded his grandmother through the process of upgrading her PC."

"Sheepherding" is strictly managing actual sheep.

share|improve this answer
Well, I never heard "so and so shepherded him to do so and so" sentence, thats for sure.... – Phonics The Hedgehog Oct 4 '11 at 1:40
@SonicTheHedgehog: That usage is fairly poetic or archaic and not used often, but it is a valid metaphor. It is used a lot in the Bible, for example. – Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Oct 4 '11 at 2:29

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.