See also: COW


A cow (sense 1)


  • enPR: kou, IPA(key): /kaʊ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aʊ

Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English cou, cu, from Old English (cow), from Proto-Germanic *kūz (cow), from Proto-Indo-European *gʷṓws (cow). Cognate with Sanskrit गो (go), Ancient Greek βοῦς (boûs), Persian گاو(gāv)), Proto-Slavic *govędo (Serbo-Croatian govedo, Russian говядина (govjadina) ("beef")), Scots coo (cow), North Frisian ko, (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 (cow).


English Wikipedia has an article on:

cow (plural cows or cattle or kine) (see usage notes)

  1. (properly) An adult female of the species Bos taurus, especially one that has calved.
  2. (formerly inexact but now common) Any member of the species Bos taurus regardless of sex or age, including bulls and calves.
  3. (uncommon) Beef: the meat of cattle as food.
  4. (uncommon) Any bovines or bovids generally, including yaks, buffalo, etc.
  5. (biology) A female member of other large species of mammal, including the bovines, moose, whales, seals, hippos, rhinos, manatees, and elephants.
  6. (derogatory, Britain, Australia, informal) A woman considered unpleasant in some way, particularly one considered nasty, stupid, fat, lazy, or difficult.
    • 1933, George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London, Chapter XXXII, [1]
      [] 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:
      Greville Preston: You've been set up, you silly cow. Now, don't let me hear any more about this unless you have absolute stand-up-in-court proof it's kosher...
      Mattie Storin: Pig.
  7. (mining) A chock: a wedge or brake used to stop a machine or car.
Usage notesEdit

The plural cows is the normal plural for multiple individuals, while cattle is used in a more collective sense. The umlaut plurals ky, kye and kine are archaic or dialectal, and are not in common use.

  • (female domesticated ox or other bovine): bull (male, uncastrated), ox or steer (male, castrated), heifer (female, immature)
Derived termsEdit
  • Sranan Tongo: kaw
  • Tok Pisin: kau
  • Abenaki: kaoz (from "cows")
  • Maori: kau

See alsoEdit

Etymology 2Edit

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)

  1. (transitive, chiefly in the passive voice) To intimidate; to daunt the spirits or courage of.
    Con artists are not cowed by the law.
    • (Can we date this quote by Spectator and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?)
      To vanquish a people already cowed.
Derived termsEdit

Etymology 3Edit


cow (plural cows)

  1. (Britain, 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; []


Middle EnglishEdit



  1. Alternative form of cou




  1. metate (grinding stone)

Derived termsEdit


  • 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)‎[2] (in Spanish), México, D.F.: Instituto Lingüístico de Verano, pages 88, 252