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[hurdz-muh n] /ˈhɜrdz mən/

noun, plural herdsmen.
a herder; the keeper of a herd, especially of cattle or sheep.
(initial capital letter) Astronomy. the constellation Boötes.
noun (pl) -men
(mainly Brit) a person who breeds, rears, or cares for cattle or (rarely) other livestock in the herd US equivalent herder

Old English heordman, but the word was not common until herd (Old English hierde) in sense “keeper of domestic animals which go in herds” fell from use (cf. shepherd). See herd (n.) + man (n.). Intrusive -s- appeared early 15c., on model of craftsman, etc.

In Egypt herdsmen were probably of the lowest caste. Some of Joseph’s brethren were made rulers over Pharaoh’s cattle (Gen. 47:6, 17). The Israelites were known in Egypt as “keepers of cattle;” and when they left it they took their flocks and herds with them (Ex. 12:38). Both David and Saul came from “following the herd” to occupy the throne (1 Sam. 9; 11:5; Ps. 78:70). David’s herd-masters were among his chief officers of state. The daughters also of wealthy chiefs were wont to tend the flocks of the family (Gen. 29:9; Ex. 2:16). The “chief of the herdsmen” was in the time of the monarchy an officer of high rank (1 Sam. 21:7; comp. 1 Chr. 27:29). The herdsmen lived in tents (Isa. 38:12; Jer. 6:3); and there were folds for the cattle (Num. 32:16), and watch-towers for the herdsmen, that he might therefrom observe any coming danger (Micah 4:8; Nah. 3:8).


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