Definition of milk in English:

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Pronunciation: /mɪlk/


[mass noun]
1An opaque white fluid rich in fat and protein, secreted by female mammals for the nourishment of their young: a healthy mother will produce enough milk for her baby
More example sentences
  • Mammals produce milk for their young until they are weaned.
  • As in all mammals, the female provides milk for her offspring.
  • A female brown bear's milk is very rich in fat and calories, so the cub grows quickly.
1.1The milk from cows (or goats or sheep) as consumed by humans: a glass of milk
More example sentences
  • We have more than enough to make feta and soft goat cheeses, with milk left over for drinking and cooking.
  • I drank a glass of milk before making a cheese, peanut butter and lettuce sandwich.
  • Add the cream cheese and milk to the spinach mixture.
informal cow juice
1.2The white juice of certain plants: coconut milk
More example sentences
  • There is the first extract or the thick creamy milk from the scraped coconut.
1.3A creamy-textured liquid with a particular ingredient or use: cleansing milk
More example sentences
  • Hurrah for easy-to-use home colouring kits bursting with gentle ingredients like apricot milk, jojoba and wheat-germ oil.
  • Start by cleansing the skin with the appropriate milk and lotion and proceed with adequate exfoliation according to skin type.


[with object]
1Draw milk from (a cow or other animal), either by hand or mechanically: two hours later he was up again to milk the cows (as noun milking) I had to start the milking
More example sentences
  • Wandering into a shed one evening, he found a couple dozen goats being milked by a mechanism run by a pump.
  • He grew up on the couple's farm in Bugthorpe where he loved to help out feeding the animals and milking the cows.
  • ‘Cows were milked by hand and milk was separated from cream with a hand-cranked separator,’ she says.
1.1 [no object] (Of an animal, especially a cow) produce milk: the breed does seem to milk better in harder conditions
More example sentences
  • Cows won't milk as well and calves can't easily pick the good grass out of the old growth.
  • Healthier cows milking at a lower rate will stay in the herd longer, he thinks.
  • Today, some swine producers have totally abandoned the procedure or resect needle teeth only when sows are milking poorly or if exudative epidermitis is present in the herd.
1.2Extract sap, venom, or other substances from: scientists have found a new way of producing an anti-clotting agent—by milking a leech
More example sentences
  • He's now milking tarantulas for their venom, and has recently been granted a licence to export that venom.
  • People are bitten by exotic snakes while handling or feeding them, cleaning out their cages, milking them of their venoms, or attempting to steal them.
  • Chief among those experts is Lyn Abra, who milked funnel-webs for their venom for three decades, first for Sutherland's research and then for commercial antivenin production.
draw off, siphon, bleed, pump off, tap, drain, extract, withdraw
2Exploit or defraud by taking small amounts of money over a period of time: executives milked the health plan’s funds for their personal use
More example sentences
  • What have you been doing all of these years, milking him for money?
  • Money has clearly been milked out of agencies and into the Olympics without regard to consequences.
  • Maybe I should have thought of this before I milked my parents for money.
exploit, take advantage of, cash in on, impose on, bleed, suck dry, fleece, squeeze, wring, blackmail
2.1Get all possible advantage from (a situation): the newspapers were milking the story for every possible drop of drama
More example sentences
  • Some, perhaps sensing that the window of opportunity is closing, are doing their best to milk the situation for all it is worth.
  • I thought I'd milked the situation as far as I dared.
  • I hope that operatives are preparing to milk this situation.
2.2Elicit a favourable reaction from (an audience) and prolong it: he milked the crowd for every last drop of applause
More example sentences
  • I would say that, you know, a lot of comedians milk an audience.
  • Wooley constantly runs from one end of the stage to the other, madly working the washboards, milking the audience's applause.
  • Never missing a comic beat, their charisma worked every time and they knew how to milk the audience dry.



in milk

(Of an animal, especially a cow) producing milk.
Example sentences
  • The data were adjusted for previous lactation milk yield and days in milk at last test day.
  • I will refer to goats in milk and to milking goats to reflect the distinction.
  • The champion Friesian heifer in milk saw an honour awarded to Aidan Foody from Ardagh.

it's no use crying over spilt (or North American also spilled) milk

proverb There is no point in regretting something which has already happened and cannot be changed or reversed.
Example sentences
  • I guess it's no use crying over spilt milk, but I do remember feeling a sense of disappointment as these features were dropped from Vista.
  • ‘It's obviously very disappointing when you lose your captain and inspiration but it's no use crying over spilt milk,’ said Wigan coach Dennis Betts.

milk and honey

Prosperity and abundance: not all economists think late 1991 and early 1992 will be a time of milk and honey
With biblical allusion to the prosperity of the Promised Land (Exod. 3:8)
More example sentences
  • Zambia can be turned into a land of plenty, flowing with milk and honey.
  • In the land of milk and honey, debt is wealth, war means peace and a dollar sailing towards hell in the proverbial hand basket is a good thing.
  • ‘Our new approach,’ he said on Friday, ‘will be to present our independence not as a land of milk and honey but as a land of opportunity.’

milk of human kindness

Care and compassion for others: she’s certainly not overflowing with the milk of human kindness, is she?
With allusion to Shakespeare's Macbeth
More example sentences
  • If we can't figure this problem out, and use compassion and the milk of human kindness, so that it is a win-win situation for everyone, then it doesn't say much for the kind of people that we are.
  • You know, when you hear something like this, you are just so stricken by the milk of human kindness that you are forced to skip around in circles waving silken ribbons while braiding dandelions through your hair.
  • Well, Howie, it's just the simple milk of human kindness.


Old English milc, milcian, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch melk and German Milch, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin mulgere and Greek amelgein 'to milk'.

  • The ancient root of milk may have meant ‘to rub’, and so would refer to hand-milking animals by pulling on their teats. It is connected with the Latin word mulgere ‘to milk’, the source also of emulsion. The phrase the milk of human kindness comes from Shakespeare's Macbeth. Lady Macbeth expresses her suspicion that her husband might not use violence to seize the Scottish throne: ‘Yet I do fear thy nature; it is too full o' the milk of human kindness / To catch the nearest way.’ In the Book of Exodus in the Bible the Promised Land of Israel is described as ‘a land flowing with milk and honey’ giving us a term for prosperity and abundance.

Words that rhyme with milk

bilk, ilk, silk

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: milk

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