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holy cow

noun, Slang.
1.
(used to express bewilderment, surprise, or astonishment.)
Origin
1920-1925
1920-25
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for holy cow
  • holy cow that lightning shot is absolutely outstanding.
  • We forced them to talk to one another and they come out of the room and said holy cow.
  • But to real people, holy cow, for real people what the author of this careless article suggests is starvation through inflation.
Contemporary definitions for holy cow
interjection

an exclamation of surprise, delight, indignation, or dismay

Usage Note

slang, with many variations: holy Moses , [holy smoke], holy mackerel , holy moly

Dictionary.com's 21st Century Lexicon
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Slang definitions & phrases for holy cow

holy cow

interjection

(Variations: cats or gee or mackerel or moley or Moses or schmuts shit or smoke or sox may replace cow) An exclamation of surprise, wonder, dismay, admiration, etc; Wow!: All he could manage to say upon seeing the nude blonde was ''holy cow!''/ Holy shit, the police/ And I think holy shit, this could be a Hitler/ Holy schmuts, that would be the pride and glory

[entry form 1940s+, cats 1900+, gee 1895+, mackerel 1903+, Moses 1900+, schmutz 1990s+, shit 1940s+, smoke 1889+, sox 1909+; euphemisms for holy Christ; moley is from comic-book character Captain Marvel]


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with holy cow

holy cow

Also, holy mackerel or Moses or moly or smoke. An exclamation of surprise, astonishment, delight, or dismay, as in Holy cow, I forgot the wine, or Holy mackerel, you won! or Holy Moses, here comes the teacher! or Holy smoke, I didn't know you were here too. The oldest of these slangy expletives uses mackerel, dating from about 1800; the one with Moses dates from about 1850 and cow from about 1920. None has any literal significance, and moly is a neologism devised to rhyme with “holy” and possibly a euphemism for “Moses.”
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Difficulty index for holy cow

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for holy

10
9
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