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[kou] /kaʊ/

noun, plural cows (Archaic) kine.
the mature female of a bovine animal, especially of the genus Bos.
the female of various other large animals, as the elephant or whale.
Informal. a domestic bovine of either sex and any age.
Slang: Disparaging and Offensive.

till / until the cows come home, for a long time; forever:
You can keep arguing till the cows come home, but I won’t change my mind.
the mature female of any species of cattle, esp domesticated cattle
the mature female of various other mammals, such as the elephant, whale, and seal
(not in technical use) any domestic species of cattle
(informal) a disagreeable woman
(Austral & NZ, slang) something objectionable (esp in the phrase a fair cow)
(informal) till the cows come home, for a very long time; effectively for ever
(transitive) to frighten or overawe, as with threats

Old English cu “cow,” from Proto-Germanic *kwon (cf. Old Frisian ku, Middle Dutch coe, Dutch koe, Old High German kuo, German Kuh, Old Norse kyr, Danish, Swedish ko), earlier *kwom, from PIE *gwous (cf. Sanskrit gaus, Greek bous, Latin bov-, Old Irish bo, Latvian guovs, Armenian gaus “cow,” Slovak hovado “ox”), perhaps ultimately imitative of lowing (cf. Sumerian gu, Chinese ngu, ngo “ox”). In Germanic and Celtic, of females only; in most other languages, of either gender. Other “cow” words sometimes are from roots meaning “horn, horned,” e.g. Lithuanian karve, Old Church Slavonic krava.

“intimidate,” c.1600, probably from Old Norse kuga “oppress,” of unknown origin, but perhaps having something to do with cow (n.) on the notion of easily herded. Related: Cowed; cowing.


Related Terms

armored cow, canned cow, cash cow, sea cow
cellsite on wheels

A cow and her calf were not to be killed on the same day (Lev. 22:28; Ex. 23:19; Deut. 22:6, 7). The reason for this enactment is not given. A state of great poverty is described in the words of Isa. 7:21-25, where, instead of possessing great resources, a man shall depend for the subsistence of himself and his family on what a single cow and two sheep could yield.

In addition to the idiom beginning with


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