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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for oxen
Historical Examples
  • We'd have oxen roasted whole, an' honey—an'—but that's as fur as I can git.

    Tiverton Tales Alice Brown
  • Once it was so huge that three hundred yoke of oxen could hardly move it.

    Welsh Fairy Tales William Elliott Griffis
  • They also held the oxen's yokes, so that nobody or anything could rattle, or make any noise.

    Welsh Fairy Tales William Elliott Griffis
  • I go out at daybreak, driving the oxen to field, and I yoke them to the plough.

    English Villages P. H. Ditchfield
  • I must fill the bin of the oxen with hay, and water them, and carry out the dung.

    English Villages P. H. Ditchfield
  • A ploughland was as much land as one plough with oxen could plough in a year.

    English Villages P. H. Ditchfield
  • They held about five acres, but provided no oxen for the manorial plough-team.

    English Villages P. H. Ditchfield
  • With these were also granted 6,000 oxen accustomed to the plough, as well as supplies of seeds, &c.

    Freeland Theodor Hertzka
  • We were told he should come this day in a wagon drawn by oxen, and here he is!

    Classic Myths Mary Catherine Judd
  • Attached to the oxen in any other way than by a yoke, the plough would be intolerable.

    Pax Vobiscum Henry Drummond
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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