1 of 2


: the mature female of cattle (genus Bos)
: the mature female of various usually large animals (such as an elephant, whale, or moose)
: a domestic bovine animal regardless of sex or age
chiefly British, informal : a woman who is stupid or annoying
Liesel was on such a high that she felt indestructible. "I said," she beamed, "stupid cow," and she didn't have to wait a single moment for the teacher's hand to slap her.Markus Zusak
cowy adjective

Illustration of cow

Illustration of cow
  • 1 hoof
  • 2 pastern
  • 3 dewclaw
  • 4 switch
  • 5 hock
  • 6 rear udder
  • 7 flank
  • 8 thigh
  • 9 tail
  • 10 pinbone
  • 11 tail head
  • 12 thurl
  • 13 hip
  • 14 barrel
  • 15 ribs
  • 16 crops
  • 17 withers
  • 18 heart girth
  • 19 neck
  • 20 horn
  • 21 poll
  • 22 forehead
  • 23 bridge of nose
  • 24 muzzle
  • 25 jaw
  • 26 throat
  • 27 point of shoulder
  • 28 dewlap
  • 29 point of elbow
  • 30 brisket
  • 31 chest floor
  • 32 knee
  • 33 milk well
  • 34 milk vein
  • 35 fore udder
  • 36 teats
  • 37 rump
  • 38 loin


2 of 2


cowed; cowing; cows

transitive verb

: to destroy the resolve or courage of
also : to bring to a state or an action by intimidation
used with into
… like too many Asian armies, adept at cowing a population into feeding them … Edward Lansdale
cowedly adverb
Choose the Right Synonym for cow

intimidate, cow, bulldoze, bully, browbeat mean to frighten into submission.

intimidate implies inducing fear or a sense of inferiority into another.

intimidated by so many other bright freshmen

cow implies reduction to a state where the spirit is broken or all courage is lost.

not at all cowed by the odds against making it in show business

bulldoze implies an intimidating or an overcoming of resistance usually by urgings, demands, or threats.

bulldozed the city council into approving the plan

bully implies intimidation through threats, insults, or aggressive behavior.

bullied into giving up their lunch money

browbeat implies a cowing through arrogant, scornful, or contemptuous treatment.

browbeat the witness into a contradiction

Examples of cow in a Sentence

Noun The cows need to be milked twice a day. Verb I refuse to be cowed by their threats. a sharp glare cowed the child into being quiet
Recent Examples on the Web
According to their owner, Little Buckets Farm Sanctuary founder Susan Klingenberg, the two pals grew up together and still love to play together and groom each other, even though the cow is now over 1,000 pounds larger than her canine buddy. Kelli Bender, Peoplemag, 17 Jan. 2023 The Illinois State Fair’s butter cow is back in all its creamy glory. Chicago Tribune Staff, Chicago Tribune, 17 Aug. 2022 What the clean cow is to clean coal, clean meat is to renewables like solar. Jan Dutkiewicz, Wired, 27 Nov. 2021 Huffman’s bell cow is RB Makhi Hughes with 599 yards and 10 TDs on 55 carries. Dennis Victory, al, 7 Sep. 2021 But mercifully, each year there’s this monthlong break when the roof cow is naked and the potholders are undecorated. Kevin Fisher-Paulson, San Francisco Chronicle, 7 Sep. 2021 The cow was hungry and was munching eagerly on a bale of hay. Rick Kogan,, 7 Sep. 2021 The donkeys — Eeyore, Shrek and Fiona — were a bit harder to persuade, and the littlest cow was terrified. Washington Post, 21 Aug. 2021 Subsistence and sport hunters, guides and conservationists in the group suggested reducing the harvest for resident subsistence hunters from five animals a day to four animals per year, just one of which could be a cow. Alena Naiden, Anchorage Daily News, 5 Jan. 2023
Róisín subsequently apologized for her remarks, cowed into disowning them, no doubt pressured to do so by all the people with a financial stake in her new album succeeding. Bob Guccione Jr, Spin, 20 Sep. 2023 So do punitive measures like New Zealand’s plan to require farmers to start paying a price for the methane that cows belch and the nitrous oxide that comes from their urine. Noah Gordon, The New Republic, 3 Oct. 2023 She was given a role—but turned it down upon actually reading Hansberry’s realist drama, cowed by the challenge. Hazlitt, 9 Aug. 2023 Far from being cowed, Klaveness, who played on Norway’s national team before becoming a lawyer and a judge, has continued to speak, and continued to challenge soccer’s orthodoxy that sensitive matters should remain behind closed doors. Tariq Panja, New York Times, 24 July 2023 This imposture cows the enemy, but Hector slays Patroclus anyway, sealing everyone’s fate. Judith Thurman, The New Yorker, 11 Sep. 2023 Russia’s elite, meanwhile, has been cowed by what many of them believe was a hit ordered directly or indirectly by the Kremlin, and analysts agreed that Prigozhin’s death will stamp out any remaining impulse among Russia’s elite to speak out against the war or challenge Putin. Mary Ilyushina, Washington Post, 27 Aug. 2023 Before that, the TTP had largely been cowed by a harsh military crackdown that routed its fighters and quashed its influence. Haq Nawaz Khan, Washington Post, 30 July 2023 In a time of terror, the great mass is enthusiastic, compliant, calculating or cowed. Roger Cohen Nanna Heitmann, New York Times, 6 Aug. 2023 See More

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

Word History



Middle English cou, from Old English ; akin to Old High German kuo cow, Latin bos head of cattle, Greek bous, Sanskrit go


probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Danish kue to subdue

First Known Use


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


1581, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near cow

Cite this Entry

“Cow.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
: the adult female of cattle or of any of various usually large animals (as elephants, whales, or seals)
: any domestic bovine animal regardless of sex or age


2 of 2 verb
: to lessen the spirits or courage of : frighten
were cowed into silence by threats


Old English "cow"


probably of Scandinavian origin

More from Merriam-Webster on cow

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