From Middle English cou, cu, from Old English cū (“cow”), from Proto-West Germanic *kū, from Proto-Germanic *kūz (“cow”), from Proto-Indo-European *gʷṓws (“cow”).
Cognate with Sanskrit गो (go), Ancient Greek βοῦς (boûs), Persian گاو (gâv)), Latvian govs (“cow”), Proto-Slavic *govędo (Serbo-Croatian govedo, Russian говядина (govjadina) ("beef")), Scots coo (“cow”), North Frisian ko, kø (“cow”), West Frisian ko (“cow”), Dutch koe (“cow”), Low German Koh, Koo, Kau (“cow”), German Kuh (“cow”), Swedish ko (“cow”), Norwegian ku (“cow”), Icelandic kýr (“cow”), Latin bōs (“ox, bull, cow”), Armenian կով (kov, “cow”).
The plural kine is from Middle English kyne, kyn, kuin, kiin, kien (“cows”), either a double plural of Middle English ky, kye (“cows”), equivalent to modern kye + -en, or inherited from Old English cȳna (“cows', of cows”), genitive plural of cū (“cow”).
cow (plural cows or cattle or kine) (see usage notes)
- (strictly) An adult female of the species Bos taurus, especially one that has calved.
- Cow milk is the most common form of milk in Europe.
- (formerly inexact but now common) Any member of the species Bos taurus regardless of sex or age, including bulls and calves.
- (uncommon) Beef: the meat of cattle as food.
- The only meat I eat is cow.
- (uncommon) Any bovines or bovids generally, including yaks, buffalo, etc.
- (biology) A female member of other large species of mammal, including the bovines, moose, whales, seals, hippos, rhinos, manatees, and elephants.
- (derogatory, UK, Australia, informal) A woman considered unpleasant in some way, particularly one considered nasty, stupid, fat, lazy, or difficult.
- 1933 January 9, George Orwell [pseudonym; Eric Arthur Blair], chapter 32, in Down and Out in Paris and London, London: Victor Gollancz […], →OCLC:
- […] the worst insult to a woman, either in London or Paris, is "cow"; a name which might even be a compliment, for cows are among the most likeable of animals.
- 1990, House of Cards, Season 1, Episode 2:
- (mining) A chock: a wedge or brake used to stop a machine or car.
- The plural cows is the normal plural for multiple individuals, while cattle is used in a more collective sense. The umlaut plurals kee, kie, kine, ky and kye are archaic or dialectal, and are not in common use.
- (derogatory: despicable woman): bitch
- (female animal):
- (female dolphin): dolphinet (archaic)
- (informal: anything annoyingly difficult): bastard, bitch, bugger (UK)
- (female domesticated ox or other bovine): bull (male, uncastrated), ox or steer (male, castrated), heifer (female, immature)
- ant cow
- bell cow
- black cow
- bulls and cows
- bulls and cows
- bush cow
- cash cow
- cow bell
- cow belt
- cow bingo
- cow bite
- cow blowing
- cow catcher
- cow chip
- cow cocky
- cow cod soup
- cow college
- cow corner
- cow creamer
- cow dung
- cow elephant
- cow eyes
- cow grease
- cow gum
- cow handed
- cow hitch
- cow juice
- cow killer
- cow magnet
- cow meat
- cow parsley
- cow parsnip
- cow pat, cow patty
- cow pony
- cow shark
- cow shot
- cow sociology
- cow tipping
- cow town
- cow urine
- cow vetch
- cow weed
- cow-tree, cow tree
- cowherd, cowherder
- cowmilk, cow milk, cow's milk
- cowpie, cow pie
- cowpool, cow pool
- cow's lungwort
- cowstall, cow stall
- dairy cow
- dark as the inside of a cow
- frozen cow juice
- gentleman cow
- have a cow
- holy cow
- in two shakes of a cow's tail
- like a cow pissing on a flat rock
- mad cow disease, mad cow
- milch cow
- milk cow
- moly cow
- moo-cow, moo cow
- nearly never bulled a cow
- sacred cow
- sea cow
- spherical cow
- springing cow
- Steller's sea cow
- the cow knows not the worth of its tail till it loses it
- till the cow come home
- tune the old cow died of
- until the cows come home
- why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free
- List of sequenced animal genomes on Wikipedia.Wikipedia
Probably from Old Norse kúga (“to oppress”) (whence also Norwegian and Danish kue, Swedish kuva); compare Icelandic kúfa (“to set on top”) and Faroese kúga (“to oppress”).
cow (third-person singular simple present cows, present participle cowing, simple past and past participle cowed)
- (transitive, chiefly in the passive voice) To intimidate; to daunt the spirits or courage of.
- Synonyms: see Thesaurus:intimidate
- Con artists are not cowed by the law.
- 1711 September 22 (Gregorian calendar), Joseph Addison; Richard Steele [et al.], “TUESDAY, September 11, 1711”, in The Spectator, number 167; republished in Alexander Chalmers, editor, The Spectator; a New Edition, […], volume II, New York, N.Y.: D[aniel] Appleton & Company, 1853, →OCLC, page Steele:
- To vanquish a people already cowed.
cow (plural cows)
- (UK, dialect) A chimney cowl.
- 1836, Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers:
- Who could live to gaze from day to day on bricks and slates, who had once felt the influence of a scene like this? Who could continue to exist, where there are no cows but the cows on the chimneypots; nothing redolent of Pan but pan-tiles; […]
- metate (grinding stone)
- Stairs Kreger, Glenn Albert; Scharfe de Stairs, Emily Florence; Olvaries Oviedo, Proceso; Ponce Villanueva, Tereso; Comonfort Llave, Lorenzo (1981) Diccionario huave de San Mateo del Mar (Serie de vocabularios indígenas “Mariano Silva y Aceves”; 24) (in Spanish), México, D.F.: Instituto Lingüístico de Verano, pages 88, 252
- Alternative form of cou