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heifer

[hef-er]
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noun
  1. a young cow over one year old that has not produced a calf.
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Origin of heifer

before 900; Middle English hayfre, Old English hēa(h)f(o)re, equivalent to hēah high + -fore; akin to Greek póris heifer
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for heifer

heifer

noun
  1. a young cow
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Word Origin

Old English heahfore; related to Greek poris calf; see high
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 heifer

n.

Old English heahfore, West Saxon; Northumbrian hehfaro, heffera (plural), of unknown origin, not found outside English. The first element seems to be heah "high," common in Old English compounds with a sense of "great in size." The second element may be related to Old English fearr "bull," or to Old English faran "to go" (giving the whole a sense of "high-stepper"); but there are serious sense difficulties with both conjectures. Liberman offers this alternative:

Old English seems to have had the word *hægfore 'heifer.' The first element (*hæg-) presumably meant 'enclosure' (as do haw and hedge), whereas -fore was a suffix meaning 'dweller, occupant' ....

In modern use, "a female that has not yet calved," as opposed to a cow, which has calved, and a calf, which is an animal of either sex not more than a year old. As derisive slang for "a woman, girl" it dates from 1835.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper