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noun (used with a plural verb)
  1. bovine animals, especially domesticated members of the genus Bos.
  2. Bible. such animals together with other domesticated quadrupeds, as horses, swine, etc.
  3. Disparaging. human beings, especially in a large, unruly crowd.
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Origin of cattle

1175–1225; Middle English catel < Old North French: (personal) property < Medieval Latin capitāle wealth; see capital1
Related formscat·tle·less, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for cattle


noun (functioning as plural)
  1. bovid mammals of the tribe Bovini (bovines), esp those of the genus Bos
  2. Also called: domestic cattle any domesticated bovine mammals, esp those of the species Bos taurus (domestic ox)
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Related formsRelated adjective: bovine

Word Origin

C13: from Old Northern French catel, Old French chatel chattel
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

Word Origin and History for cattle


mid-13c., "property," from Anglo-French catel "property" (Old North French catel, Old French chatel), from Medieval Latin capitale "property, stock," noun use of neuter of Latin adjective capitalis "principal, chief" (see capital (n.1)). Cf. sense development of fee, pecuniary. Sense originally was of movable property, especially livestock; it began to be limited to "cows and bulls" from late 16c.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper