a young hog and especially one that has been weaned

—Merriam-Webster Dictionary

From Middle English early 15th century schot shote: projectile, young branch, young weaned pig (see also shoot); perhaps from a Low German (compare West Flemish schote: pig under 1 year old), of unknown origin. —Online Etymology Dictionary

One reader, at Merriam-Webster, gave this reason for looking up the word:

‘Shoats for sale’ signs by the road when I was a kid. That people would buy to raise to slaughter for their own use.

A word that was, no doubt, more commonly used in the mid 20th century.

Diana, at the Righteous Bacon, says that many pork producers are both pig farmers and hog farmers, intimating that the two are not necessarily the same thing. Best I let her speak for herself:

So, what’s the difference between a pig and a hog? Size, mostly. And by extension age. But that’s far from where the distinctions end. There are also weaners, feeders, shoats, gilts, sows, boars, barrows, and a small dictionary full of other bits of swine-specific vocabulary to go along with the industry.

A shoat, according to Diana, is:

A young swine [generic term for all pigs], usually between weaning and about 120 pounds live weight.

This is in contradistinction to a hog, which is:

An older swine, usually over about 120 pounds live weight.

And a weaner, more specifically, is:

A young swine at and during the point of weaning.

Diana seems to know what she’s talking about. So let me plug her book:


You can order it here. Don’t worry, Diana wouldn’t know me from an aardvark. There are no pecuniary interests to declare. Just felt like plugging.

Let’s hope no shoats were injured, physically or otherwise, during filming of that video.

Tip: A young pig weaned but not yet a fully fledged hog is a shoat.

Featured Image

Shoat – Pixabay


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