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See also: COW


A cow (sense 1)


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

Etymology 1[edit]

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), Persian گاو(gāv)), 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).

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).


English Wikipedia has an article on:

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

  1. (strictly) An adult female of the species Bos taurus, especially one that has calved.
    Cow milk is the most common form of milk in Europe.
  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.
    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 32, in Down and Out in Paris and London, London: Victor Gollancz [], OCLC 2603818:
      [] 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.
  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 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.
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; []





  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)‎[1] (in Spanish), México, D.F.: Instituto Lingüístico de Verano, pages 88, 252

Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of cou