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Inherited from Middle English heyfre, hayfre, heyfer, from Old English hēahfore, hēahfru, of disputed origin; see the Old English entry for more discussion.


  • IPA(key): /ˈhɛfə(ɹ)/, /ˈhɛfɚ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛfə(ɹ)


heifer (plural heifers)

  1. A young female cow, (particularly) one over one year old but which has not calved.
  2. (obsolete) A wife.
  3. (informal, derogatory, obsolete) A girl or young woman.
    • 1853, T.C. Haliburton, Sam Slick's Wise Saws, Vol. II., p. 282:
      I have half a mind to marry that heifer, tho' wives are bothersome critters when you have too many of them.
    • 1934, James T. Farrell, The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan, Ch. 20:
      Sally, a buxom human heifer, leaned forward over the cashier's counter, and handed Dapper Dan O'Doul the autographed picture of Ramon Novarro, which she had procured by sending money and stamps. Her blue energetic eyes flashed, and she continued leaning forward with the front of her dress sagging, permitting Dapper Dan to get an eyeful.
  4. (informal, derogatory) A cow: a large, unattractive, unpleasant woman.
    • 2001, Glenda Howard, Cita's World
      My hand was aching to slap that silly heifer. I told her to take her trifling ass down to Burger King and get herself a job flipping burgers...

Derived terms[edit]