noun Archaic.

a plural of cow1.

Origin of kine

Middle English kyn, Old English cȳna, genitive plural of cow1




Origin of kine

shortened form



noun, plural cows, (Archaic) kine.

the mature female of a bovine animal, especially of the genus Bos.
the female of various other large animals, as the elephant or whale.
Informal. a domestic bovine of either sex and any age.
Slang: Disparaging and Offensive.
  1. a large, obese, and slovenly woman.
  2. a woman who has a large number of children or is frequently pregnant.

Origin of cow

before 900; Middle English cou, Old English cū; cognate with German Kuh, Dutch koe, Old Norse kȳr, Latin bōs, Greek boûs ox; cf. bovine, gaur
Related formscow·like, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for kine

Historical Examples of kine

  • Kine feed in the grass-grown bailey court; its glory is departed.

    English Villages

    P. H. Ditchfield

  • And as I enter the little village, I am greeted by the bleat of sheep and the low of the kine.

    The Book of Khalid

    Ameen Rihani

  • The paths in the woods were covered with the dead bodies of kine, calves and sheep.

    England and Germany

    Emile Joseph Dillon

  • She is a little taller, and she is so graceful when she milks the kine.

    The Buddha

    Paul Carus

  • Only two women were left in Middalhof with her, and some thralls who tended the kine and horses.

    Eric Brighteyes

    H. Rider Haggard

British Dictionary definitions for kine



(functioning as plural) an archaic word for cowsor cattle

Word Origin for kine

Old English cӯna of cows, from cow 1




the mature female of any species of cattle, esp domesticated cattle
the mature female of various other mammals, such as the elephant, whale, and seal
(not in technical use) any domestic species of cattle
informal a disagreeable woman
Australian and NZ slang something objectionable (esp in the phrase a fair cow)
till the cows come home informal for a very long time; effectively for ever

Word Origin for cow

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




(tr) to frighten or overawe, as with threats

Word Origin for 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

Word Origin and History for kine

archaic plural of cow, a double plural (cf. children) or genitive plural of Middle English kye "cows," from Old English cy (genitive cyna), plural of cu "cow."



Old English cu "cow," from Proto-Germanic *kwon (cf. Old Frisian ku, Middle Dutch coe, Dutch koe, Old High German kuo, German Kuh, Old Norse kyr, Danish, Swedish ko), earlier *kwom, from PIE *gwous (cf. Sanskrit gaus, Greek bous, Latin bov-, Old Irish bo, Latvian guovs, Armenian gaus "cow," Slovak hovado "ox"), perhaps ultimately imitative of lowing (cf. Sumerian gu, Chinese ngu, ngo "ox"). In Germanic and Celtic, of females only; in most other languages, of either gender. Other "cow" words sometimes are from roots meaning "horn, horned," e.g. Lithuanian karve, Old Church Slavonic krava.



"intimidate," c.1600, probably from Old Norse kuga "oppress," of unknown origin, but perhaps having something to do with cow (n.) on the notion of easily herded. Related: Cowed; cowing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with kine


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.