If you live on a farm, you already know that a trough is what animals eat out of. The word actually refers to the shape of the container, and can mean anything that is low and hollowed out — like a curve on a graph or a depression in the ground.

In the olden days, people, like animals, ate from troughs. Gradually, we got fancy enough to divide our food between bowls and plates, but there is some lingering connection between the idea of trough and rough, peasant living.

Definitions of trough
  1. noun
    a long narrow shallow receptacle
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    cradle, rocker
    a trough that can be rocked back and forth; used by gold miners to shake auriferous earth in water in order to separate the gold
    type of:
    a container that is used to put or keep things in
  2. noun
    a concave shape with an open top
    synonyms: bowl
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    type of:
    concave shape, concavity, incurvation, incurvature
    a shape that curves or bends inward
  3. noun
    a container (usually in a barn or stable) from which cattle or horses feed
    synonyms: manger
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    bunk, feed bunk
    a long trough for feeding cattle
    type of:
    any object that can be used to hold things (especially a large metal boxlike object of standardized dimensions that can be loaded from one form of transport to another)
  4. noun
    a channel along the eaves or on the roof; collects and carries away rainwater
    synonyms: gutter
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    chute, slide, slideway, sloping trough
    sloping channel through which things can descend
    a gutter in a roof
    coal chute
    a chute for coal
    a chute down which logs can slide
    water chute
    chute with flowing water down which toboggans and inner tubes and people slide into a pool
    type of:
    a passage for water (or other fluids) to flow through
  5. noun
    a narrow depression (as in the earth or between ocean waves or in the ocean bed)
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    a low area (especially a marshy area between ridges)
    type of:
    depression, natural depression
    a sunken or depressed geological formation
  6. noun
    a treasury for government funds
    synonyms: public treasury, till
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    type of:
    coffer, exchequer, treasury
    the funds of a government or institution or individual
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