1 [kou]
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. a large, obese, and slovenly woman.
Offensive. a woman who has a large number of children or is frequently pregnant.
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.

before 900; Middle English cou, Old English cū; cognate with German Kuh, Dutch koe, Old Norse kȳr, Latin bōs, Greek boûs ox; cf. bovine, gaur

cowlike, adjective Unabridged


2 [kou]
verb (used with object)
to frighten with threats, violence, etc.; intimidate; overawe.

1595–1605; < Old Norse kūga to oppress, cow; compare Danish kue to cow

uncowed, adjective

terrorize, scare, bully. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
cow1 (kaʊ)
1.  the mature female of any species of cattle, esp domesticated cattle
2.  the mature female of various other mammals, such as the elephant, whale, and seal
3.  (not in technical use) any domestic species of cattle
4.  informal a disagreeable woman
5.  slang (Austral), (NZ) something objectionable (esp in the phrase a fair cow)
6.  informal till the cows come home for a very long time; effectively for ever
[Old English cū; related to Old Norse kӯr, Old High German kuo, Latin bōs, Greek boūs, Sanskrit gāŭs]

cow2 (kaʊ)
(tr) to frighten or overawe, as with threats
[C17: from Old Norse kūga to oppress, related to Norwegian kue, Swedish kuva]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. cu, from P.Gmc. *kwon, earlier *kwom, from PIE *gwous (cf. Skt. gaus, Gk. bous, L. bov-), perhaps ult. imitative of lowing (cf. Sumerian gu, Chinese ngu, ngo "ox"). In Gmc., of females only; in other languages, of either gender.

1605, probably from O.N. kuga "oppress," of unknown origin, but perhaps having something to do with cow (n.) on the notion of easily herded.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Abbreviations & Acronyms
cellsite on wheels
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Bible Dictionary

Cow definition

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.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idiom beginning with cow, also see cash cow; holy cow; sacred cow; till the cows come home.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
There are compelling arguments on both sides of the cow case.
It is not a cash cow despite what the spin-doctors say.
Scientists say they have generated clean, renewable electricity from the
  bacteria-rich fluids found inside cow stomachs.
Sometimes the loan can cover the purchase of a much-needed dairy cow.
Image for cow
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