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See also: Cow, CoW, and COW


English Wikipedia has an article on:


  • enPR: kou, IPA(key): /kaʊ/
  • (file)
    IPA(key): /ɘ kaʊ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aʊ

Etymology 1[edit]

A cow (sense 1)

From Middle English cou, cu, from Old English (cow), from Proto-West Germanic *kū, from Proto-Germanic *kūz (cow), from Proto-Indo-European *gʷṓws (cow).

Cognate with Sanskrit गो (go), Ancient Greek βοῦς (boûs), Persianگاو(gâv)), Latvian govs (cow), Proto-Slavic *govędo (Serbo-Croatian govedo, Russian говядина (govjadina) ("beef")), 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). Doublet of beef.

The plural kine is from Middle English kyne, kyn, kuin, kiin, kien (cows), either a double plural of Middle English ky, kye (cows), equivalent to modern kye +‎ -en, or inherited from Old English cȳna (cows', of cows), genitive plural of (cow).


 cow on Wikipedia

cow (countable and uncountable, plural cows or cattle or kine) (see usage notes)

  1. (strictly) An adult female of the species Bos taurus, especially one that has calved.
    Hyponyms: dairy cow, milk cow
    Coordinate terms: bull, bullock, calf, heifer, heiferette
    Cow milk is the most common form of milk in Europe.
  2. (loosely or informal) Any member of the species Bos taurus regardless of sex or age, including bulls and calves.
    Synonym: cattle beast
  3. (uncommon, uncountable) Beef: the meat of cattle as food.
    The only meat I eat is cow.
  4. (uncommon) Any bovines or bovids generally, including yaks, buffalo, etc.
  5. (biology) A female member of other large species of mammal, including the bovines, moose, whales, seals, hippos, rhinos, manatees, and elephants.
  6. (derogatory, UK, Australia, informal) A woman considered unpleasant in some way, particularly one considered nasty, stupid, fat, lazy, or difficult.
    • 1933 January 9, George Orwell [pseudonym; Eric Arthur Blair], chapter XXXII, in Down and Out in Paris and London, London: Victor Gollancz [], →OCLC:
      [] the worst insult to a woman, either in London or Paris, is "cow"; a name which might even be a compliment, for cows are among the most likeable of animals.
    • 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.
    • 2014 December 5, Marina Hyde, “Childbirth is as awful as it is magical, thanks to our postnatal ‘care’”, in The Guardian[1]:
      By the time of my third, five months ago, I was a right bossy cow about what I wanted because I knew the drill. For reasons I shan’t bore you with, I got them to induce me at 39 weeks, at 10am, with the epidural going in first, and it was all a dream.
  7. (mining) A chock: a wedge or brake used to stop a machine or car.
    Coordinate term: dog
  8. (US, military, slang) A third-year cadet at West Point.
    • Colonel Red Reeder, West Point Second Classman
      An assistant manager, wearing the stripes of a cadet corporal, walked up to Coach Smith. Clint knew him, a Cow from B-l. What had he done to become so outstanding that the Tacs made him a corporal?
    • 2023, James E Parco, David A Levy, Daphne DePorres, Attitudes Aren't Free: A Call to Action, page 242:
      When I was a cow (junior) at West Point, I dated a plebe (freshman), which is considered fraternization in the cadet realm.
  9. (fishing, slang) A fish that is very large for its species, such as a large striped bass or large bluefin tuna.
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 kee, kie, kine, ky and kye are archaic or dialectal, and are not in common use.
  • (derogatory: despicable woman): bitch
  • (female animal):
  • (informal: anything annoyingly difficult): bastard, bitch, bugger (UK)
  • (female domesticated ox or other bovine): bull (male, uncastrated), ox or steer (male, castrated), heifer (female, immature)
Derived terms[edit]
  • Sranan Tongo: kaw
  • Tok Pisin: kau
  • Abenaki: kaoz (from cows)
  • Maori: kau

See also[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

Probably from Old Norse kúga (to oppress) (whence also Norwegian and Danish 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, chiefly in the passive voice) To intimidate; to daunt the spirits or courage of.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:intimidate
    Con artists are not cowed by the law.
    • 1711 September 22 (Gregorian calendar), [Joseph Addison; Richard Steele et al.], “TUESDAY, September 11, 1711”, in The Spectator, number 167; republished in Alexander Chalmers, editor, The Spectator; a New Edition, [], volume II, New York, N.Y.: D[aniel] Appleton & Company, 1853, →OCLC, page Steele:
      To vanquish a people already cowed.
      The spelling has been modernized.
    • 1923, Lucy Maud Montgomery, “Chapter 8”, in Emily of New Moon:
      Emily looked across at the girl. Large, steady, purplish-grey eyes gazed into beady, twinkling, black ones—gazed unquailingly—with something in them that cowed and compelled. The black eyes wavered and fell, their owner covering her retreat with another giggle and toss of her short braid of hair.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 3[edit]


cow (plural cows)

  1. (UK, 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; []

Etymology 4[edit]

Clipping of AT2018cow. From the name of the archetypal event, AT2018cow, an LFBOT. From being an astronomical transient (AT) occurring in 2018, with an automatically assigned code to distinguish it from other events in 2018.


cow (plural cows)

  1. (astronomy) LFBOT: Synonym of luminous fast blue optical transient
instance of
class of





  1. metate (grinding stone)

Derived terms[edit]


  • Stairs Kreger, Glenn Albert; Scharfe de Stairs, Emily Florence; Olvaries Oviedo, Proceso; Ponce Villanueva, Tereso; Comonfort Llave, Lorenzo (1981) Diccionario huave de San Mateo del Mar (Serie de vocabularios indígenas “Mariano Silva y Aceves”; 24)‎[2] (in Spanish), México, D.F.: Instituto Lingüístico de Verano, pages 88, 252

Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of cou