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2017 Word of the Year

sacred cow

noun
1.
an individual, organization, institution, etc., considered to be exempt from criticism or questioning.
Origin of sacred cow
1905-1910
First recorded in 1905-10; in reference to the traditional inviolability of the cow among Hindus
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for sacred cow
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Long a sacred cow, it has lately become the eye of a controversy.

    After the Rain Sam Vaknin
  • And how in the name of the sacred cow did the deed get in the seat of this one?

    The Winning Touchdown

    Lester Chadwick
  • The temple was dedicated to the goddess Athor, and her emblem was a sacred cow.

  • We had to stop before every tree, every pagoda, every sacred tank and bush, and at last before a sacred cow.

    From the Caves and Jungles of Hindostan Helena Pretrovna Blavatsky
  • The pigs were nobody's concern, but cattle—the brothers of the Cow, the sacred cow—were quite otherwise.

    From Sea to Sea Rudyard Kipling
  • Well, for the love of cats, Andy Rush, what in the name of the sacred cow is the matter now?

  • I found that out when I put a paper of cayenne pepper into a head of lettuce and gave it to the sacred cow.

British Dictionary definitions for sacred cow

sacred cow

noun
1.
(informal) a person, institution, custom, etc, unreasonably held to be beyond criticism
Word Origin
alluding to the Hindu belief that cattle are sacred
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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sacred cow in Culture

sacred cow definition


Figuratively, anything that is beyond criticism: “That housing project is a real sacred cow: the city council won't hear of abandoning it.” In India, followers of Hinduism consider cows sacred and do not eat them because they believe the animals contain the souls of dead persons.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for sacred cow

sacred cow

noun phrase

Someone or something that may not be questioned or altered: Everything is on the table. There are no sacred cows

[1910+; fr the venerated status of cows in Hinduism]

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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Idioms and Phrases with sacred cow

sacred cow

A person or thing immune to criticism or questioning, as in The rules governing the press conference have become a sacred cow in this administration. This term alludes to the honored status of cows in Hinduism, where they are a symbol of God's generosity to humankind. It has been used figuratively since about 1900.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Nearby words for sacred cow

Difficulty index for sacred cow

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for sacred

9
10
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