calf

1
[ kaf, kahf ]
See synonyms for calf on Thesaurus.com
noun,plural calves [kavz, kahvz]. /kævz, kɑvz/.
  1. the young of the domestic cow or other bovine animal.

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

  1. Informal. an awkward, silly boy or man.

  2. a mass of ice detached from a glacier, iceberg, or floe.

Idioms about calf

  1. in calf, (of a cow or other animal having calves) pregnant.

  2. kill the fatted calf, to prepare an elaborate feast in welcome or celebration.

Origin of calf

1
First recorded before 900; Middle English, Old English cealf, calf; cognate with Old Saxon kalf, Old Norse kalfr, Old High German kalb, from Germanic kalboz

Other words from calf

  • calf·less, adjective
  • calf·like, adjective

Words Nearby calf

Other definitions for calf (2 of 2)

calf2
[ kaf, kahf ]

noun,plural calves [kavz, kahvz]. /kævz, kɑvz/.
  1. the fleshy part of the back of the human leg below the knee.

Origin of calf

2
First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English, from Old Norse kalfi

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use calf in a sentence

  • A small book, bound in full purple calf, lay half hidden in a nest of fine tissue paper on the dressing-table.

    Hilda Lessways | Arnold Bennett
  • The calf and the bear shall feed: their young ones shall rest together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

  • When he assails a calf, the cow will rush upon him, and one toss from her horns is sufficient to kill him.

    Hunting the Lions | R.M. Ballantyne
  • New milker with a calf still beside her—purty as a picture, the pair of 'em, and dirt cheap.

    Dorothy at Skyrie | Evelyn Raymond
  • Looks like good stock, that calf does; 's if 't might make a nice steer, but 'twon't never be a cow to give milk.

    Dorothy at Skyrie | Evelyn Raymond

British Dictionary definitions for calf (1 of 2)

calf1

/ (kɑːf) /


nounplural calves
  1. the young of cattle, esp domestic cattle: Related adjective: vituline

  2. the young of certain other mammals, such as the buffalo, elephant, giraffe, and whale

  1. a large piece of floating ice detached from an iceberg, etc

  2. kill the fatted calf to celebrate lavishly, esp as a welcome

  3. another name for calfskin

Origin of calf

1
Old English cealf; related to Old Norse kālfr, Gothic kalbō, Old High German kalba

British Dictionary definitions for calf (2 of 2)

calf2

/ (kɑːf) /


nounplural calves
  1. the thick fleshy part of the back of the leg between the ankle and the knee: Related adjective: sural

Origin of calf

2
C14: from Old Norse kalfi

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 calf

calf

see kill the fatted calf; puppy (calf) love.

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