There are 2 main definitions of cow in English:

Share this entry

Share this page

cow1

Line breaks: cow
Pronunciation: /kaʊ
 
/

noun

1A fully grown female animal of a domesticated breed of ox, kept to produce milk or beef: a dairy cow
More example sentences
  • When rBGH gets injected into dairy cows, milk production increases by as much as 10-15%.
  • The dairy needs 130,000 cows to provide enough milk every year.
  • This genetically modified hormone was designed to increase milk production in dairy cows.
1.1(Loosely) a domestic bovine animal, regardless of sex or age.
Example sentences
  • A close relative of the domestic cow, Banteng have curvy horns and white ‘stockings’ on their legs.
  • In this regard it should be noted that cows slaughtered under the Scheme account for 31% of the total.
  • Conventional farmers feed dairy and beef cows grain and corn and sometimes cow by-products to increase the protein in their diet.
1.2(In farming) a female domestic bovine animal which has borne more than one calf. Compare with heifer.
Example sentences
  • Suckler cows with calves will also benefit from early turnout provided the fields are sheltered and dry and you take steps to prevent tetany.
  • Heifers also meet with good demand and the trade for suckler cows and calves was ‘exceptional’.
  • For suckler cows with calves, the biggest risk now is grass tetany.
1.3The female of certain other large animals, for example elephant, rhinoceros, whale, or seal.
Example sentences
  • When we pass a rock where a seal cow has just had a pup, we spot them out swimming, the baby piggy-backing on its mother's back.
  • A handler was killed by an elephant cow which was being used on a film set in Broederstroom on Sunday.
  • While elephants are indisputably social animals the social lives of males and females - bulls and cows - may be contrasted.
2 informal An unpleasant or disliked woman.
Example sentences
  • Do you know that stupid cow gave me a 17 out of 20 on my last quiz?
  • I'd give anything to be able to spend a week with my parents again, you don't know how lucky you are you stupid cow.
  • She's a shameless flirt and might I add, a stupid cow.
2.1Australian /NZ An unpleasant person or thing.
Example sentences
  • Why one of the silly cows didn't call me on Tuesday to ask where I was is beyond me.
  • In my experience, all women with hyphenated names are cows by default, but Emma-Kate was just terrible.
  • The 20 babes being absolute cows to each other is unedifying for all.

Origin

Old English , of Germanic origin; related to Dutch koe and German Kuh, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin bos and Greek bous.

More
  • The female animal is an Old English word. The verb cow, meaning ‘to intimidate’, is a different word, probably from Old Norse kúga ‘to oppress’. See also bull. The expression till the cows come home, ‘for an indefinitely long time’, dates from at least the 16th century. ‘I warrant you lay a bed [in bed] till the cows came home’, wrote Jonathan Swift in 1738.

Phrases

have a cow

1
North American informal Become angry, excited, or agitated: don’t have a cow—it’s no big deal
More example sentences
  • People would, well, have a cow, and for good reason.
  • I'm afraid Mr. Napper is going to come across some of it and have a cow.
  • Sometimes I wish I could wring that man's neck for the games he plays while I'm on the other side of the world having a cow!

till the cows come home

2
informal For an indefinitely long time: those two could talk till the cows came home
More example sentences
  • I can micro-multi-task till the cows come home.
  • We may disapprove till the cows come home, it won't alter that fact.
  • We could auction these 2200 jobs till the cows come home, but it will be totally futile.

Definition of cow in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

There are 2 main definitions of cow in English:

Share this entry

Share this page

cow2

Line breaks: cow
Pronunciation: /kaʊ
 
/

verb

[with object]
Cause (someone) to submit to one’s wishes by intimidation: the intellectuals had been cowed into silence
More example sentences
  • But we have reached a frightening turning point if artists are cowed into silence by violence and threats.
  • Would we do it if we were not cowed by the threat of a US backlash?
  • Garang had a broad impassive face; he cultivated a ponderous dignity that often cowed his opponents.
Synonyms
intimidate, daunt, browbeat, bully, badger, dragoon, bludgeon, tyrannize, overawe, awe, dismay, dishearten, unnerve, subdue, scare, terrorize, frighten, petrify

Origin

late 16th century: probably from Old Norse kúga 'oppress'.

More
  • The female animal is an Old English word. The verb cow, meaning ‘to intimidate’, is a different word, probably from Old Norse kúga ‘to oppress’. See also bull. The expression till the cows come home, ‘for an indefinitely long time’, dates from at least the 16th century. ‘I warrant you lay a bed [in bed] till the cows came home’, wrote Jonathan Swift in 1738.

Definition of cow in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

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