kill fatted calf


1 [kaf, kahf]
noun, plural calves [kavz, kahvz] .
the young of the domestic cow or other bovine animal.
the young of certain other mammals, as the elephant, seal, and whale.
calfskin leather.
Informal. an awkward, silly boy or man.
a mass of ice detached from a glacier, iceberg, or floe.
in calf, (of a cow or other animal having calves) pregnant.
kill the fatted calf, to prepare an elaborate feast in welcome or celebration.

before 900; Middle English; Old English cealf, calf; cognate with Old Saxon kalf, Old Norse kalfr, Old High German kalb

calfless, adjective
calflike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
calf1 (kɑːf)
n , pl calves
1.  the young of cattle, esp domestic cattleRelated: vituline
2.  the young of certain other mammals, such as the buffalo, elephant, giraffe, and whale
3.  a large piece of floating ice detached from an iceberg, etc
4.  kill the fatted calf to celebrate lavishly, esp as a welcome
5.  another name for calfskin
Related: vituline
[Old English cealf; related to Old Norse kālfr, Gothic kalbō, Old High German kalba]

calf2 (kɑːf)
n , pl calves
the thick fleshy part of the back of the leg between the ankle and the kneeRelated: sural
Related: sural
[C14: from Old Norse kalfi]

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. cealf (Anglian cælf) "young cow," from W.Gmc. *kalbam (cf. M.Du. calf, O.N. kalfr, Ger. Kalb, Goth. kalbo), perhaps from PIE *gelb(h)-, from base *gel- "to swell," hence, "womb, fetus, young of an animal." Elliptical sense of "leather made from the skin of a calf" is from 1727. Used of icebergs
that break off from glaciers from 1818. Calf of the leg (early 14c.) is from O.N. kalfi, source unknown; possibly from the same Germanic root.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

calf (kāf)
n. pl. calves (kāvz)
The fleshy, muscular back part of the human leg between the knee and ankle, formed chiefly by the bellies of the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Bible Dictionary

Calf definition

Calves were commonly made use of in sacrifices, and are therefore frequently mentioned in Scripture. The "fatted calf" was regarded as the choicest of animal food; it was frequently also offered as a special sacrifice (1 Sam. 28:24; Amos 6:4; Luke 15:23). The words used in Jer. 34:18, 19, "cut the calf in twain," allude to the custom of dividing a sacrifice into two parts, between which the parties ratifying a covenant passed (Gen. 15:9, 10, 17, 18). The sacrifice of the lips, i.e., priase, is called "the calves of our lips" (Hos. 14:2, R.V., "as bullocks the offering of our lips." Comp. Heb. 13:15; Ps. 116:7; Jer. 33:11). The golden calf which Aaron made (Ex. 32:4) was probably a copy of the god Moloch rather than of the god Apis, the sacred ox or calf of Egypt. The Jews showed all through their history a tendency toward the Babylonian and Canaanitish idolatry rather than toward that of Egypt. Ages after this, Jeroboam, king of Israel, set up two idol calves, one at Dan, and the other at Bethel, that he might thus prevent the ten tribes from resorting to Jerusalem for worship (1 Kings 12:28). These calves continued to be a snare to the people till the time of their captivity. The calf at Dan was carried away in the reign of Pekah by Tiglath-pileser, and that at Bethel ten years later, in the reign of Hoshea, by Shalmaneser (2 Kings 15:29; 17:33). This sin of Jeroboam is almost always mentioned along with his name (2 Kings 15:28 etc.).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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