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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. 2016.
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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
  • They were harnessed to plows when there were no oxen at hand.

    Folkways William Graham Sumner
  • 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
  • It contained the farmer's horses and oxen, his wagons, his hay, and other produce.

    In School and Out Oliver Optic
  • And she was glad to see a yoke of oxen lumbering along, a great covered wagon behind them.

    Maid Sally Harriet A. Cheever
  • I shall outspan here, so that my oxen may rest in the shade of the gorge.

    Through Veld and Forest Harry Collingwood
  • His library consisted of cookery books; and all the tongues he knew, were tongues of swine and oxen.

  • We got the oxen tethered behind the waggon, and so we awaited developments.

  • If you will lend me money enough to buy a pair of oxen I will begin to team a cargo of nitrate down myself.

  • Then the inspanning, the yoking up of the oxen again, and the start once more.

    Diamond Dyke George Manville Fenn
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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