cash cow

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An allusion to the dairy cow, which once acquired may be milked on an ongoing basis.


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cash cow (plural cash cows)

  1. (business) A product, service, or enterprise that generates ongoing, high net free cash flows.
    Coordinate terms: star, question mark, dog
    • 1980, D. J. Hall; M. A. Saias, “Strategy Follows Structure!”, in Strategic Management Journal, volume 1, number 2, page 181:
      The managers of a cash cow are primarily responsible for the generation of cash, and they should in principle be willing to give cash away to those other businesses in the portfolio which need it most.
  2. (by extension) Someone or something which is a dependable source of appreciable amounts of money.
    Synonym: moneymaker
    • 2004 May 11, Dan Milmo, “Press tycoon Lord Black used company as ‘cash cow’, says $1.25bn lawsuit”, in The Guardian[1], retrieved 30 Oct. 2008:
      Hollinger International, the owner of the Daily and Sunday Telegraph, claimed in the 175-page filing that its former chief executive had treated the company as his "cash cow".
    • 2004 October 5, “Britney's new digs”, in The Age (Australia)[2], retrieved 30 Oct. 2008:
      Meanwhile, "Mr Spears is keen on protecting his cash cow, um, wife. Brit's bodyguards have been teaching Kev how to shoot a handgun," the New York Post says.
    • 2021 January 30, Kellen Browning, “They’re Flocking to America to Make a Fortune Playing Video Games”, in The New York Times[3]:
      Many of the League Championship Series’ 10 teams are backed by billionaires who also own traditional U.S. sports teams. But the sport has not yet become a cash cow. To get in on League of Legends, teams had to pay Riot $10 million to $13 million.


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