an individual, organization, institution, etc., considered to be exempt from criticism or questioning.
Origin of sacred cow
First recorded in 1905–10; in reference to the traditional inviolability of the cow among Hindus
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
British Dictionary definitions for sacred cow
informal a person, institution, custom, etc, unreasonably held to be beyond criticism
Word Origin for sacred cow
alluding to the Hindu belief that cattle are sacred
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
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Figuratively, anything that is beyond criticism: “That housing project is a real sacred cow: the city council won't hear of abandoning it.” In India, followers of Hinduism consider cows sacred and do not eat them because they believe the animals contain the souls of dead persons.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Idioms and Phrases with sacred cow
A person or thing immune to criticism or questioning, as in The rules governing the press conference have become a sacred cow in this administration. This term alludes to the honored status of cows in Hinduism, where they are a symbol of God's generosity to humankind. It has been used figuratively since about 1900.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.