Sew vs. sow

  • The verb sew always relates to stitching, knitting, and other tasks involving a needle and thread or a sewing machine. It also appears in the figurative phrasal verb sew up, meaning to complete successfully or to make sure of.


    As a verb, sow means (1) to scatter seed for growing, or (2) to implant. It’s the correct word in the idiom sow [one’s] wild oats.



    The Dornish are like the Iraqi Kurds of Westeros, ready for revenge once they sew up their big patron. [Wired]

    Since March, the cross-community textile art project has brought women together for twice-weekly sewing meetings. [Irish Times]

    How do you sow your wild oats, live the salad days of your youth, and still remain the darling of golf? [ESPN]

    The journalists were unwittingly sowing the seeds of their own destruction. [Australian]

    See also

    Sow wild oats


    1. chris waitrose says:

      I am in the garden sowing seeds, my wife is in the house sewing shirts. We are both sowing?/sewing? how does one spell this? Please do not say T, H, I ,S.

      • AnotherOutsider says:

        You are sowing, she is sewing, your spelling is correct. Though you are not both doing one or the other, each of you is doing one.

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