a tuft of hair that grows in a direction different from that of the rest of the hair.

Origin of cowlick

First recorded in 1590–1600; cow1 + lick Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cowlick

Historical Examples of cowlick

  • I never yet saw a fellow with a cowlick who amounted to a hill of beans.

    Center Rush Rowland

    Ralph Henry Barbour

  • So he put down the spuds and begun to curry that cowlick of hisn.

  • I've been fighting this cowlick ever since I've been a kid—stocking caps, gunk, the works.

    The Romantic Analogue

    W.W. Skupeldyckle

  • Once I saw Dan's cowlick shake like the plume of an angry warrior as his wife turned toward him inquiringly.

    A Hoosier Chronicle

    Meredith Nicholson

  • He chuckled immoderately and pressed his cowlick down, which defiant tuft popped instantly back to its position of attention.

    The Red Debt

    Everett MacDonald

British Dictionary definitions for cowlick



a tuft of hair over the forehead
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 cowlick

1590s, from cow (n.) + lick (n.). Because it looks like a cow licked your head.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper