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[ok-suh n] /ˈɒk sən/
a plural of ox.


[oks] /ɒks/
noun, plural oxen for 1, 2, oxes for 3.
the adult castrated male of the genus Bos, used chiefly as a draft animal.
any member of the bovine family.
Informal. a clumsy, stupid fellow.
Origin of ox
before 900; Middle English oxe, Old English oxa; cognate with Old Frisian oxa, Old Saxon, Old High German ohso, Old Norse uxi, oxi; akin to Welsh ych
Related forms
oxlike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for oxen
Historical Examples
  • But it would not do to let the carnivorous brutes destroy their oxen,—that would not do.

    The Young Yagers Mayne Reid
  • We'd have oxen roasted whole, an' honey—an'—but that's as fur as I can git.

    Tiverton Tales Alice Brown
  • The young man's voice might have been heard a mile as he swung his whip and called out to the oxen on starting.

    In The Boyhood of Lincoln Hezekiah Butterworth
  • We were told he should come this day in a wagon drawn by oxen, and here he is!

    Classic Myths Mary Catherine Judd
  • And she was glad to see a yoke of oxen lumbering along, a great covered wagon behind them.

    Maid Sally Harriet A. Cheever
  • Like Confucius, he received the great sacrifice of oxen, sheep and pigs.

  • His library consisted of cookery books; and all the tongues he knew, were tongues of swine and oxen.

  • There was no help for it, so I hired six oxen and a few Ossetes.

    A Hero of Our Time M. Y. Lermontov
  • If you will lend me money enough to buy a pair of oxen I will begin to team a cargo of nitrate down myself.

  • I ordered the Ossetes to put my portmanteau into the cart, and to replace the oxen by horses.

    A Hero of Our Time M. Y. Lermontov
British Dictionary definitions for oxen


the plural of ox


noun (pl) oxen (ˈɒksən)
an adult castrated male of any domesticated species of cattle, esp Bos taurus, used for draught work and meat
any bovine mammal, esp any of the domestic cattle
Word Origin
Old English oxa; related to Old Saxon, Old High German ohso, Old Norse oxi
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for oxen

plural of ox, it is the only true continuous survival in Modern English of the Old English weak plural. OED reports oxes occurs 14c.-16c., "but has not survived."



Old English oxa "ox" (plural oxan), from Proto-Germanic *ukhson (cf. Old Norse oxi, Old Frisian oxa, Middle Dutch osse, Old Saxon, Old High German ohso, German Ochse, Gothic auhsa), from PIE *uks-en- "male animal," (cf. Welsh ych "ox," Middle Irish oss "stag," Sanskrit uksa, Avestan uxshan- "ox, bull"), said to be from root *uks- "to sprinkle," related to *ugw- "wet, moist." The animal word, then, is literally "besprinkler."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for oxen


Related Terms

dumb ox

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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oxen in the Bible

Heb. bakar, "cattle;" "neat cattle", (Gen. 12:16; 34:28; Job 1:3, 14; 42:12, etc.); not to be muzzled when treading the corn (Deut. 25:4). Referred to by our Lord in his reproof to the Pharisees (Luke 13:15; 14:5).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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