- 1: land that is covered or mostly covered with grass; especially : a tract of moist low-lying usually level grassland
A meadow is a field vegetated primarily by grass and other non-woody plants (grassland). The term is from Old English mædwe. In agriculture a meadow is grassland which is not grazed by domestic livestock but rather allowed to grow unchecked in order to make hay. It may be naturally occurring or artificially created from cleared woodland.
Especially in the United Kingdom and Ireland, the term meadow is commonly used in its original sense to mean a haymeadow, signifying grassland mown annually in the summer for making hay. "Pasture" is the term used in contrast for land which is grazed throughout the summer, which may include grassland ("grass pasture"), but also includes non-grassland habitats such as heathland, moorland and wood pasture. "Grassland" is used to include both meadow and grass pasture.
A transitional meadow occurs when a field, pasture, farmland, or other cleared land is no longer grazed by livestock and starts to display luxuriant growth extending to the flowering and seeding of its grass and wild flower species. The condition is however only temporary because the grasses eventually become shaded out when scrub and woody plants become well-established, being the forerunners of the return to a fully wooded state.
In North America prior to European colonization, Algonquian, Iroquois and other Native American people regularly cleared areas of forest to create transitional meadows where deer could find nutrition and be hunted. Many places named "Deerfield" are located at sites where Native Americans once practiced this form of land management.