Definition of ox in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /äks/

noun (plural oxen /ˈäksən/)

1A domesticated bovine animal kept for milk or meat; a cow or bull. See cattle (sense 1).
Example sentences
  • The beef cows and oxen were kept in the pasture further from the cottage.
  • He separated the calf from the other oxen and kept it among the milk cows.
  • The soft, nutritious substance found in the internal cavities of animal bones, especially the shin bones of oxen and calves.
bull, bullock, steer;
Farming  beef
1.1A castrated male of this, formerly much used as a draft animal: [as modifier]: an ox cart
More example sentences
  • The average farm had poultry, pigs, and livestock, used oxen as draught animals, and would, in the eighteenth century, acquire horses.
  • There was a crude, wooden cart pulled by two oxen, whose nodding heads kept rhythm with the gay fringes on their horns.
  • Carts pulled by malnourished oxen and bicycles were the main modes of transportation.
1.2An animal of a group related to the domestic ox. See cattle (sense 2).
Example sentences
  • The ones of more recent date were from wild oxen that had lived as neighbors of domestic herds then kept in Britain.
  • The forests supported tigers, elephants, wild boar, oxen, and deer, as well as wildfowl.
  • Of all the unsolved mysteries of the Arctic, the fall and rise of musk-oxen on Banks Island is one of the most beguiling.


Old English oxa, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch os and German Ochse, from an Indo-European root shared by Sanskrit ukṣán 'bull'.

  • beef from Middle English:

    We often find that after the Norman Conquest people used French words for an animal's meat and the English word for the animal itself. Beef is from French, and cow and ox are native English words, whereas bull was adopted from Scandinavian. Beef, meaning ‘a complaint’ or ‘to complain’, was originally American, from the mid 19th century. The first person to write of the kind of beef possessed by a muscular man was American writer Herman Melville (1819–91), author of Moby-Dick. The British are so well known for eating beef that a French insult for an Englishman is un rosbif (‘a roast beef’). In English too, beefeater (early 17th century) was originally a term of contempt for a well-fed domestic servant. Now a Beefeater is a Yeoman Warder or Yeoman of the Guard at the Tower of London, a nickname first used in 1671.

Words that rhyme with ox

box, cox, detox, fox, Foxe, Knox, lox, outfox, phlox, pox, Stocks

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ox

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.