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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.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], →OCLC, Numbers 19:1–2:
      And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, This is the ordinance of the law which the Lord hath commanded, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke.
  2. (obsolete) A wife.
  3. (informal, derogatory, obsolete) A girl or young woman.
    • 1853, T.C. Haliburton, Sam Slick's Wise Saws, volume II, page 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, chapter 20, in The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan:
      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]