holy cow

noun Slang.
(used to express bewilderment, surprise, or astonishment.)

Origin:
1920–25

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Dictionary.com's 21st Century Lexicon
Main Entry:  holy cow
Part of Speech:  interj
Definition:  an exclamation of surprise, delight, indignation, or dismay
Usage:  slang, with many variations: holy Moses, [holy smoke], holy mackerel, holy moly
Dictionary.com's 21st Century Lexicon
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

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® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
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.
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