Word Origin & History
O.E. oxa (pl. oxan), from P.Gmc. *ukhson (cf. O.N. oxi, O.Fris. oxa, M.Du. osse, Ger. Ochse, Goth. auhsa), from PIE *uks-en- "male animal," (cf. Welsh ych "ox," M.Ir. oss "stag," Skt. uksa, Avestan uxshan- "ox, bull"), said to be from base *uks- "to sprinkle," related to *ugw- "wet, moist." The animal
word, then, is lit. "besprinkler." Oxen is the only true survival in Mod.Eng. of the O.E. weak plural. Ox-bow "semicircular bend in a river" is first recorded 1797, Amer.Eng. (New England), in ref. to the shape of the piece of wood which forms the collar for an ox yoke (so called from 1368).