15 words that have a totally different meaning on the farm

The world of farming has a language all its own. What means one thing to a farmer, can mean quite another to someone who doesn’t work in agriculture.

“Being served”, for example, is something that happens to ordinary folk who have time to go to restaurants; on a livestock farm, however, it is definitely not an activity compatible with mealtimes.  

See also: 10 things only a farmer’s child would know

Here are some of our favourite everyday farming words, and their more common interpretations.  

1. Estate

What it means to everyone else: A group of flats or houses found in urban areas. 

What it means if you’re a farmer:  A very, very big farm.

A housing estate

©Rui Vieira/Rex

2. Fencing

To everyone else: The art of fighting with blades, divided into three weapon categories: foil, sabre and épée.

To a farmer: A never-ending job that is necessary but repetitive.

Two people fencing with epees

©Attila Volgyi/Rex

3. Cereals

To everyone else: The food that you pour milk over at breakfast time – such as Coco Pops, Shreddies and Special K.

To a farmer: Barley, wheat, oats – the crops that your bread, porridge and beer are made from.

Milk being poured on to a bowl of cornflakes


4. Guinea

To everyone else: The prefix for “fowl” or “pig”.

To a farmer: The currency in which pedigree livestock is traded. One guinea equates to £1.05.

A guinea pig


5. Yard

To everyone else: An imperial unit of length.

To a farmer: The area (part overgrown with nettles) where you stash rusty machinery.

A measuring tape

©Mint Images/Rex

6. Lodging

To everyone else: A place where you stay.

To a farmer: Bad news – it’s when your crop falls over. It can be a costly problem as it can slow harvest and reduce yield.

An open suitcase full of clothes


7. Straw

To everyone else: Something you drink your cocktail or McDonald’s milkshake through.

To a farmer: Something containing bull semen. Warning: Do not under any circumstances muddle the two. Or something your livestock sleeps on, and sometimes eats.

A squirrel drinking a milkshake through a straw

©Mike Walker/Rex

8. Header

To everyone else: A means of scoring a goal in football.

To a farmer: The business end of a combine. 

A footballer heading a shot

©Xinhua News Agency/Rex

9. Well hung

To everyone else:  An oft-made claim by gentlemen.

To a farmer:  Meat that has been hung and left to mature after an animal is slaughtered. 

A couple hanging a picture

©Mood Board/Rex

10. Poaching

To everyone else: What you do with eggs.

To a farmer: What your cattle do in wet fields. Or when someone steals pheasants or deer.

An egg being poached

©Woman’s Weekly/Rex

11. Cab

To everyone else: The mode of transport that takes you home if you’ve been drinking.

To a farmer: The bit of your tractor you sit in – kind of like a second home some months.

A line of taxi cabs

©Mark Thomas/Rex

12. Hoe

To everyone else: A rather unpleasant term to describe a promiscuous female.

To a farmer: A metal tool used to move small amounts of soil.

Santa Claus saying "ho-ho-ho"

©Action Press/Rex

13. Flock

To everyone else: A type of wallpaper

To a farmer: Your group of sheep, usually found trying to escape or die

Flock wallpaper

©Photoservice Electa/Universal Images/Rex

14. Pto

To everyone else: Please turn over. What people put on a piece of paper if they want you to turn it over.

To a farmer: An abbreviation of power take-off – the shaft that drives an implement.

Students turning over exam papers

©Chris Ratcliffe/Rex

15. Nipple

To everyone else: An anatomical feature.

To a farmer: The attachment on a machine into which you apply grease.

A mother breastfeeding her baby

©Monkey Business Images/Rex

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