calf

1 of 2

noun (1)

ˈkaf How to pronounce calf (audio)
ˈkäf,
 dialectal also  ˈkāf
plural calves ˈkavz How to pronounce calf (audio)
ˈkävz,
ˈkāvz
also calfs
often attributive
1
a
: the young of the domestic cow
also : that of a closely related mammal (such as a bison)
b
: the young of various large animals (such as the elephant or whale)
2
plural calfs : the hide of the domestic calf
especially : calfskin
3
: an awkward or silly youth
calflike
ˈkaf-ˌlīk How to pronounce calf (audio)
ˈkäf-
 dialectal also  ˈkāf-
adjective

calf

2 of 2

noun (2)

plural calves ˈkavz How to pronounce calf (audio)
ˈkävz
: the fleshy back part of the leg below the knee
The cat rubbed against her calves.
Phrases
in calf
: pregnant
used of a cow

Examples of calf in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Potential Complications from Walking on Your Toes Continuous toe walking can result in tightness in the calf muscles and the Achilles tendon. Angelica Bottaro, Verywell Health, 12 July 2024 The Founding Fathers knew of the fate of the 3,000 idolaters who prayed at the golden calf while Moses conversed with God on Mount Sinai, and of the money-changers driven from the Temple by Jesus. Bruce Fein, Baltimore Sun, 11 July 2024 This might manifest as tighter calf muscles or poor flexibility in the ankles. Cristina Mutchler, Health, 10 July 2024 The video shows the rapidly flowing river the calf had fallen into and then shows the mother moose trotting across the campground in a panic. Brooke Baitinger, Idaho Statesman, 10 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for calf 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'calf.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun (1)

Middle English, going back to Old English cælf, plural calfur (Anglian), cealf (West Saxon), going back to Germanic *kalƀaz, *kalƀiz-, neuter s-stem (whence also Old Saxon kalf "young of a cow," Old High German kalb, Old Norse kalfr, and, from a derivative *kalƀōn-, Old High German kalba "female calf," Gothic kalbo), of uncertain origin

Note: Associated with Greek delphýs "womb," Sanskrit garbha- "womb, fetus," going back to Indo-European *gwelbhu- (see -adelphous), but the expected outcome of an ablaut form *gwolbh-es- would be Germanic *kwalb-iz-, which does not match the attested forms.

Noun (2)

Middle English, borrowed from Old Norse kalfi "calf of the leg," going back to a Germanic source probably akin to early Modern Dutch kalf "swelling of the hand or foot," Old High German wazzerchalp "edema," German dialect Kalb "muscle"

First Known Use

Noun (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of calf was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near calf

Cite this Entry

“Calf.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/calf. Accessed 20 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

calf

1 of 2 noun
ˈkaf How to pronounce calf (audio)
ˈkȧf
plural calves ˈkavz How to pronounce calf (audio)
ˈkȧvz
1
a
: the young of the domestic cow
b
: the young of various other large animals (as the elephant or whale)
2
plural calfs : calfskin

calf

2 of 2 noun
plural calves
: the fleshy or muscular back part of the leg below the knee
Etymology

Noun

Old English cealf "young cow"

Noun

Middle English calf "part of the leg"; of Norse origin

Medical Definition

calf

noun
plural calves ˈkavz, ˈkȧvz How to pronounce calf (audio)
: the fleshy back part of the leg below the knee

More from Merriam-Webster on calf

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