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See also: COW


A cow (sense 1)


Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English cou, cu, from Old English ‎(cow), from Proto-Germanic *kūz ‎(cow), from Proto-Indo-European *gʷṓws ‎(cow). Cognate with Sanskrit गो ‎(go), Ancient Greek βοῦς ‎(boûs), Persian گاو ‎(gāv)), Proto-Slavic *govędo (Serbo-Croatian govedo), Scots coo ‎(cow), North Frisian ko, ‎(cow), West Frisian ko ‎(cow), Dutch koe ‎(cow), Low German Koh, Koo, Kau ‎(cow), German Kuh ‎(cow), Swedish ko ‎(cow), Norwegian ku ‎(cow), Icelandic kýr ‎(cow), Latin bōs ‎(ox, bull, cow), Armenian կով ‎(kov, cow).


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cow ‎(plural cows or cattle) (see usage notes)

  1. (properly) An adult female of the species Bos taurus that has calved.
  2. (formerly inexact but now common) Any member of the species Bos taurus regardless of sex or age, including bulls and calves.
  3. (uncommon) Beef: the meat of cattle as food.
  4. (uncommon) Any bovines or bovids generally, including yaks, buffalo, &c.
  5. (biology) A female member of other large species of mammal, including the bovines, moose, whales, seals, hippos, rhinos, manatees, and elephants.
  6. (derogatory, informal) A woman considered unpleasant in some way, particularly one considered stupid, fat, lazy, or difficult.
    • 1990, House of Cards, Season 1, Episode 2:
      Greville Preston: You've been set up, you silly cow. Now, don't let me hear any more about this unless you have absolute stand-up-in-court proof it's kosher...
      Mattie Storin: Pig.
  7. (mining) A chock: a wedge or brake used to stop a machine or car.
Usage notes[edit]

The plural cows is the normal plural for multiple individuals, while cattle is used in a more collective sense. The umlaut plurals ky, kye and kine are archaic and no longer in common use.

  • (female domesticated ox or other bovine): bull (male, uncastrated), ox or steer (male, castrated), heifer (female, immature)
Derived terms[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

See also[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

Probably from Old Norse kúga ‎(to oppress) (whence also Danish and Norwegian kue, Swedish kuva); compare Icelandic kúfa ‎(to set on top) and Faroese kúga ‎(to oppress).


cow ‎(third-person singular simple present cows, present participle cowing, simple past and past participle cowed)

  1. (transitive) To intimidate; to daunt the spirits or courage of. Found primarily in the passive voice.
    Con artists are not cowed by the law.
    • Shakespeare
      To vanquish a people already cowed.

Etymology 3[edit]


cow ‎(plural cows)

  1. (Britain, dialect) A chimney cowl.
    • 1836, Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers
      Who could live to gaze from day to day on bricks and slates, who had once felt the influence of a scene like this? Who could continue to exist, where there are no cows but the cows on the chimneypots; nothing redolent of Pan but pan-tiles; []