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See also: moon-calf


Alternative forms[edit]


From moon +‎ calf, after a superstition that the moon caused abnormal fetal development.



mooncalf (plural mooncalves)

  1. (now rare) An abnormal mass within the uterus; a false conception. [from 16th c.]
  2. A poorly-conceived idea or plan. [from 17th c.]
  3. A dreamer, someone absent-minded or distracted; a fool, simpleton. [from 17th c.]
    • 1902, John Kendrick Bangs, Olympian Nights, New York: Harper & Bros., Chapter 10, p. 185,[2]
      [] you’re a jobbernowl and a doodle, a maundering mooncalf and a blockheaded numps, a gaby and a loon; you’re a Hatter!” I shrieked the last epithet.
    • 1957, Ogden Nash, “Come On In, The Senility Is Fine” in You Can’t Get There From Here, Boston: Little, Brown & Co., p. 66,[3]
      But I can think of no one but a mooncalf or a gaby
      Who would trust their own child to raise a baby.
    • 1978, Lawrence Durrell, Livia, Faber & Faber, 1992 (Avignon Quintet), p. 463,
      He slipped it softly onto her unresisting finger and, like the unwise moncalf he was, kissed it.

Related terms[edit]