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From Middle English hayfare, hayfre, from Old English heahfore, hēahfre, compound of (1) *heag- (mating) (compare dialectal German Hagen, Hegel (breeding bull), Middle Dutch haechdroese (genitals), Old English hagan (id.)), from Proto-Indo-European *ḱak- (to be able, help) (compare Sanskrit शक्नोति (śaknóti, to be able), Avestan 𐬯𐬀𐬐-(sak-, to agree)) and (2) -fore (compare English elver, fieldfare, Old English sceolfor (cormorant)).[1]



heifer (plural heifers)

  1. A young female cow, (particularly) one over one year old but which has not calved.
    • 1611, KJV, 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.
    • 1616, Ben Jonson, Epicœne, Ch. ii., in Works, Vol. I, p. 549:
      Her, whom I shall choose for my heicfar.
  3. (informal, derogatory, obsolete) A girl.
    • 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.
  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]



  1. ^ Anatoly Liberman, An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology: An Introduction, s.v. “heifer” (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2008), 101-5.