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From Middle High German vihe, from Old High German fihu, Proto-Germanic *fehu, from Proto-Indo-European *péḱu (“livestock, domestic animals”). Cognate to Low German Veeh, Dutch vee, English fee, Danish fæ.
- (uncountable, collective) livestock; farm animals (animals kept for their milk, meat, skin, etc.)
- Das Vieh grast auf der Weide. ― The animals are grazing on the pasture.
- (countable, singulative) Alternative form of
- Wenn so ein Vieh vor einem steht, kommt man sich ziemlich klein und schwach vor.
- You feel pretty small and weak when such a beast is standing right in front of you.
- (countable, figuratively, derogatory) beast; swine (person behaving in a boorish or inhumane way)
- Du Vieh! Wie kannst du nur! ― You beast! How dare you!
Declension of Vieh (uncountable)
- Vieh is per se a collective noun (“livestock”), but is also sometimes used as a singulative (“animal”). For the latter case, however, there is no corresponding plural. Instead, a construction with Stück can be used: ein, zwei, drei Stück Vieh (“one, two, three head[s] of livestock”).
- In Upper German areas, the variant Viech is also used as a singulative of Vieh, whence the plural Viecher (“animals”). In the north, however, Viech is not used in this neutral way but only with a pejorative sense (“beast, pest”).
- In the figurative sense of “boorish, inhumane person”, an ad-hoc plural Viehe may be formed, but this is rare and nonstandard.