Definition of pet noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//pet//
    ; NAmE NAmE//pet//
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  1. 1  an animal, a bird, etc. that you have at home for pleasure, rather than one that is kept for work or food Do you have any pets? a pet dog/hamster, etc. a family/domestic pet pet food a pet shop (= where animals are sold as pets) CulturepetsOver half of all British and US families keep an animal as a pet. Families with children are most likely to have pets, but other people, especially old people, often keep a pet for company. Some animals belong to a group of people: for example, many British railway stations, old people's homes and even offices have a resident cat.The most popular pets for children include cats, dogs, birds, fish, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and mice, and children are usually expected to help take care of their pets. Older people are more likely to have a cat or dog, or perhaps a budgerigar. Since dogs and cats have different characters and needs, many people have a strong preference for one or the other. People who say that they are dog people like the fact that dogs like to go for walks, enjoy being touched and need lots of attention. Cat people like cats because they are independent. Other people prefer exotic pets (= unusual animals), such as snakes, spiders, iguanas and stick insects. Many pets can be bought at a pet shop, though people often buy dogs and cats direct from breeders or from homes for stray (= lost) animals.Most pets are treated as members of the family. People buy special pet food and biscuits, or sometimes fresh fish or meat. Pets have their own place to sleep, bowls to eat from and toys to play with. There are even clothes for pets, and salons where their fur is washed and cut.Pets are a responsibility which must be taken seriously. Dog owners in the US have to buy a dog licence (AmE dog license) which allows them to keep a dog. This was formerly also the case in Britain. Pure-bred dogs may also be taken to local and national shows where there are prizes for the best of each breed. But many people are not bothered about having a pure-bred dog and are happy with a mongrel (AmE mutt).A few dogs are kept outside and sleep in a kennel (AmE doghouse). Most, however, like cats, are allowed to go where they like inside the house. Most dogs wear a collar (= a band of leather round the neck), with a small metal disc attached giving the dog's name and address. In the US there are laws in most places requiring dogs to be kept on a leash (BrE lead). People teach their dogs to walk to heel (AmE heeling) and not to jump up at people. Some also teach them to do tricks like fetching (= bringing back an object that someone has thrown) or begging (= sitting up on their back legs). Some people take their dog to obedience school (BrE obedience classes) for training. There is now pressure for dog owners to clear up any mess left by their dog, and people can be fined for not doing so.Cats are less trouble to look after. They can often enter or leave their house as they please through a cat flap (= a small door fixed low down into a door or wall). If they are kept inside they are trained to urinate in a litter tray filled with cat litter (= a special absorbent material). Many cat owners give their cats a flea collar (= a collar containing a substance that kills fleas) and a disc with their name and address on it in case they get lost.Looking after a pet properly can be quite expensive. Many British people pay for their dog to stay at a local kennels, or their cat at a cattery when they go on holiday. In the US there are pet motels. Many people take out insurance to cover medical treatment by a vet (= animal doctor) and animals with emotional problems can be taken to a pet psychologist. When a pet dies many people bury it in their garden, but others arrange for it to be buried in a special pet cemetery.If people do not want a pet of their own they can sponsor an animal through a charity and receive regular information about it. Many people also put out bird tables containing food for wild birds. See related entries: Pets
  2. 2(usually disapproving) a person who is given special attention by somebody, especially in a way that seems unfair to other people synonym favourite She's the teacher's pet.
  3. 3(British English, informal) used when speaking to somebody to show affection or to be friendly What's wrong, pet? Be a pet (= be kind) and post this letter for me.
  4. Word Originearly 16th cent. (as a noun; originally Scots and northern English): of unknown origin.Extra examples Feed your pet a healthy diet. She bundled Daisy into her pet carrier. Some pet sitters charge on a per-visit basis. The apartment we live in doesn’t allow pets of any kind. a vacuum cleaner that can tackle pet hair if you need help locating your lost pet kids with pet allergies the booming trade in exotic pets the latest wave of toy technology: virtual pets the loss of a beloved pet the pet care industry the smuggling of endangered species for the pet trade
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: pet