Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Lacking adult maturity or experience; immature: a callow young man.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Bald.
  • adj. Unfledged (of a young bird).
  • adj. Immature, lacking in life experience.
  • adj. Lacking color or firmness (of some kinds of insects or other arthropods, such as spiders, just after ecdysis). Teneral.
  • adj. Shallow or weak-willed.
  • adj. Unburnt (of a brick)
  • n. A callow young bird.
  • n. A callow or teneral phase of an insect or other arthropod, typically shortly after ecdysis, while the skin still is hardening, the colours have not yet become stable, and as a rule, before the animal is able to move effectively.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Destitute of feathers; naked; unfledged.
  • adj. Immature; boyish; “green”.
  • n. A kind of duck. See old squaw.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Bald; without hair.
  • Without feathers; that has not yet put forth feathers; naked; unfledged, as a young bird: as, “callow young,”
  • Pertaining to an unfledged bird: as, “callow down,” Drayton, The Owl.
  • Youthful; juvenile; very immature: as, a callow youth.
  • n. A bald person; a baldhead.
  • n. An alluvial flat along a river-course: a term used by writers on Irish geology and agriculture.
  • n. In coal-mining, the baring, or cover, of open workings.
  • Having the character of an alluvial flat: as, callow land; a callow meadow.
  • n. In entomology, an insect just emerged from its cocoon: especially applied to ants.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. young and inexperienced

Etymologies

Middle English calwe, bald, from Old English calu.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English calwe ("bald"), from Old English calu ("callow, bare, bald"), from Proto-Germanic *kalwaz (“bare, naked, bald”), from Proto-Indo-European *gAlw- (“naked, bald”). Cognate with West Frisian keal ("bald"), Dutch kaal ("bald"), German kahl ("bald"), Russian голый (gólyj, "nude"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • (Being a new anonymous:) I have nothing at all to say about Kate DiCamillo as a person, but agree that her work is often heavy-handed, condescending, uninteresting, and just plain callow.

    Here they are,

  • This is hardly triumphalism, but calling a callow frat boy out on his bullshit.

    Firedoglake » This Just In…

  • He suddenly recalled a callow boy telling his tutor that he dreaded the sea voyage home, because he would have to be among common men rather than thoughtful acolytes like himself.

    Ship Of Destiny

  • The man of the world sometimes came upon the glove in his pocket, and laughed at it, as such men do when they recall their callow youth.

    Tommy and Grizel

  • Rolling Stone said that Stevie's singing was "callow," and many reviews said something like "... the raucous voice of Stevie Nicks and the golden-throated Christine McVie, who's the only good thing this band has left."

    ɘloЯ

  • I don't excuse what he's done on the basis of kind of callow youth, because I think he's a 20-year-old who has spent about 17 or 18 years of that in on-the-job training for being a royal, so he should know better.

    CNN Transcript Jan 13, 2005

  • In previous debates, he's looked rather young, inexperienced, "callow" is a word you sometimes heard, not ready for primetime, out of his element.

    CNN Transcript - Special Event: Republican Presidential Candidates Face off in Debate; Bush and McCain Battle for Reform Title - February 15, 2000

  • Next morning early they sent in their 'callow' verses to the great man, and followed shortly themselves.

    The Age of Erasmus Lectures Delivered in the Universities of Oxford and London

  • A Don Knotts stereotype, he was the nation's youngest mayor in 1977 when Cleveland went belly-up because he wouldn't cut enough to balance the budget-thus giving the word "callow" a bad connotation ….

    Tom Roeser

  • It later garnered a reputation for a certain kind of callow albeit popular licensed book, and for its constant attention to replicating certain effects of previous successful efforts -- the kind of relaunch and reconfigure and rehash grind that slowly drives readers away.

    The Comics Reporter

Comments

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  • "callow narcissism"

    January 21, 2009

  • "If there's a candidate who exceeded realistic expectations, it was Biden who knocked it out of the park and exposed Palin for the attractive, but callow, candidate she really is."

    – DemFromCT, "Musings over Morning Coffee", DailyKos, 3 October 2008, on the vice-presidential candidates' debate, 2 October 2008.

    "Callow" is exactly the right word.

    October 3, 2008