bo·​vine | \ˈbō-ˌvīn, -ˌvēn\

Definition of bovine 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, or resembling bovines and especially the ox or cow a bovine disease

2 : having qualities (such as placidity or dullness) characteristic of oxen or cows had a stupid, bovine expression on his face



Definition of bovine (Entry 2 of 2)

biology : any of a subfamily (Bovinae) of bovids including oxen, bison, buffalo, and their close relatives

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Other Words from bovine


bovinely adverb
bovinity \bō-​ˈvi-​nə-​tē \ noun

Did You Know?

Bovine comes from the Latin word for "cow", though the biological family called the Bovidae actually includes not only cows and oxen but also goats, sheep, bison, and buffalo. So bovine is often used technically, when discussing "bovine diseases", "bovine anatomy", and so on. It can also describe a human personality, though it can be a rather unkind way to describe someone. When Hera, the wife of Zeus, is called "cow-eyed", though, it's definitely a compliment, and Zeus fairly melts when she turns those big bovine eyes on him.

Examples of bovine in a Sentence


She stared at us with a stupid, bovine expression.

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

There are also seemingly random — and likely not household — products on the list, like bovine semen and horsehair. New York Times, "Trade War With China in Aisle 12," 12 July 2018 The enormous beasts hail from ancient bovine breeds originating in the Iberian peninsula, such as the Barrosã of Portugal and the Rubia Gallega from northern Spain. Oliver Griffin, WSJ, "Like Your Steak Aged 36 Months? Try 17 Years," 10 July 2018 Worryingly, bovine waste seems to be spreading in Europe. The Economist, "How policy debates in Europe become untethered from reality," 12 July 2018 These robots lure Bitler’s herd, the bovine version of Pavlov’s dogs, into state-of-the-milking stalls with a reward of high-nutrient pellets and a splash of molasses. Jason Nark,, "Down on the farm with the robots and drones," 5 July 2018 To be sure, camel's milk remains expensive compared with its bovine equivalent. Rebecca Keenan,, "The World Wants More Camel Milk. Australia Can Help," 23 May 2018 As it was reported in The Times in 2014, the bovine busts, along with two ram heads with long, curling horns, began life as facade ornaments for the New York Butchers’ Dressed Meat Company. Jane Margolies, New York Times, "From the Slaughterhouse to the Playground," 20 June 2018 But the cases feel so stretched out and the pacing so vexingly bovine — as if the writers and directors were told to fill a set number of minutes — that the mysteries repel emotional investment. Inkoo Kang, The Hollywood Reporter, "'C.B. Strike': TV Review," 31 May 2018 Additionally, bovine milk oligosaccharides lack the structural complexity and diversity of HMOs. Steven Townsend,, "How mother's milk shapes baby's microbiome - and overall health," 9 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Although the brand doesn't reveal exactly what makes up the vernix-like compound, one component, in particular, stands out in the full ingredient list: fetal bovine serum. Marci Robin, Allure, ""Newborn" Cream Claims to Give Adults Baby-Soft Skin With a Surprising Ingredient," 29 Oct. 2018 Huffing, snorting and in no hurry to move, the big-horned bovines occasionally meander across the Khmer-American Friendship Highway, the dusty, 140-mile route linking Phnom Penh’s factories with the port in the coastal city of Sihanoukville. Alexandra Stevenson, The Seattle Times, "Trump’s tariffs may hurt as trade war worsens, but quitting China is hard to do. Why other countries can’t fill the bill.," 24 Sep. 2018 The items are part of the $200 billion round of import taxes that broadened trade hostilities that began July 6 with a U.S. list targeting $34 billion in trade including flamethrowers, fetal bovine serum and blood. Dave Mccombs And Andrew Hobbs,, "Badger hair, bull semen, MSG among products on Trump's China tariff list," 11 July 2018 The life-size bovine who lives on John’s gable has turned in her rainbow Pride scarf for a red, white and blue rocket. Kevin Fisher-paulson,, "On the town — or in this house, many towns," 3 July 2018 Wirbal wasn’t the burly bovine’s only regular visitor. Cristela Guerra,, "After crowdfunding campaign, Dudley the Scottish Highland bull retires in style," 12 June 2018 The substantial presence of collagen in animals means that collagen supplements are frequently made from bovine hides and fish scales. Aliza Abarbanel, Bon Appetit, "What Is Collagen, the "Beauty Food" You're Seeing in Everything?," 23 Feb. 2018 The airborne bovines created a spectacle that highlighted the gas-rich sheikdom’s ability to overcome sanctions and provide fresh milk to its 2.7 million residents. Mohammed Sergie,, "Qatar Is Shipping In 3,000 Cows From California, Arizona and Wisconsin," 8 Mar. 2018 Patriarch Tex, now well into his 80s, pulls a page out of the Cal Worthington playbook and sits atop a massive bovine, striding toward the camera as Tex makes promises of great deals. John Cherwa,, "Hal Earnhardt is bullish on Ax Man's future," 9 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bovine.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of bovine


1721, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1839, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for bovine


Late Latin bovinus, from Latin bov-, bos ox, cow — more at cow


see bovine entry 1

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Time Traveler for bovine

The first known use of bovine was in 1721

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More Definitions for bovine



English Language Learners Definition of bovine

: relating to cows

: looking or acting like a cow


bo·​vine | \ˈbō-ˌvīn, -ˌvēn \

Medical Definition of bovine 

: an ox (genus Bos) or a closely related animal

Other Words from bovine

bovine adjective

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More from Merriam-Webster on bovine

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with bovine

Spanish Central: Translation of bovine

Nglish: Translation of bovine for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of bovine for Arabic Speakers

Comments on bovine

What made you want to look up bovine? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make faulty or ineffective

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