[ kou ]
See synonyms for cow on
noun,plural cows, (Archaic) kine. [kahyn] /kaɪn/
  1. the mature female of a bovine animal, especially of the genus Bos.

  2. the female of certain other mammals, as elephants, seals, and whales.

  1. Informal. a domestic bovine of either sex and any age.

  2. Slang: Disparaging and Offensive.

    • a contemptible woman, especially one who is fat, stupid, lazy, etc.

    • a woman who has a large number of children or is frequently pregnant.

Idioms about cow

  1. have a cow, Slang. to become very angry or upset; throw a fit: My mom will have a cow when she hears I'm moving.

  2. till / until the cows come home, for a long time; forever: You can keep arguing till the cows come home, but I won't change my mind.

Origin of cow

First recorded before 900; Middle English cou, cu, Old English cuu, cū; cognate with German Kuh, Dutch koe, Old Norse kȳr, Sanskrit gáuḥ “ox, cow,” Latin bōs “ox, cow,” Greek boûs “ox, cow”; cf. bovine, gaur

Other words from cow

  • cow·like, adjective

Words Nearby cow

Other definitions for cow (2 of 2)

[ kou ]

verb (used with object)
  1. to frighten with threats, violence, etc.; intimidate; overawe.

Origin of cow

First recorded in 1610–20; perhaps from Old Norse kūga “to oppress, cow”; compare Norwegian kue “to cow”

Other words for cow Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use cow in a sentence

  • He had five girls by his first wife; there is no reason why this splendid cow I have picked out should not produce a dozen boys.

    Ancestors | Gertrude Atherton
  • There are no chains to my prison, no steel cuffs to gall the limbs, no guards to threaten and cow me.

  • Here the pair reached the "Dun cow" and retired to their respective quarters.

  • But here at Fort Walsh we're among a class of people that are a heap different from Texas cow-punchers.

    Raw Gold | Bertrand W. Sinclair
  • And it shall come to pass in that day, that a man shall nourish a young cow, and two sheep.

British Dictionary definitions for cow (1 of 2)


/ (kaʊ) /

  1. the mature female of any species of cattle, esp domesticated cattle

  2. the mature female of various other mammals, such as the elephant, whale, and seal

  1. (not in technical use) any domestic species of cattle

  2. informal a disagreeable woman

  3. Australian and NZ slang something objectionable (esp in the phrase a fair cow)

  4. till the cows come home informal for a very long time; effectively for ever

Origin of cow

Old English cū; related to Old Norse kӯr, Old High German kuo, Latin bōs, Greek boūs, Sanskrit gāŭs

British Dictionary definitions for cow (2 of 2)


/ (kaʊ) /

  1. (tr) to frighten or overawe, as with threats

Origin of cow

C17: from Old Norse kūga to oppress, related to Norwegian kue, Swedish kuva

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with cow


In addition to the idiom beginning with cow

  • cow college

also see:

  • cash cow
  • holy cow
  • sacred cow
  • till the cows come home

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.