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So That's How That Word Originated!

by Uncle Bear

The history behind some familiar moo-words...

  • BOVINE: Coined in 1817. Origins: French "bovin" (14C). Latin "bovin" from (L) "bos", meaning oxen or cows.
  • Bull: Variations: Old English - "bula", Old Norse - "boli", Dutch - "bul", German - "bulle." Around 1600 the word bull began to be used in relation to other large animals, elephant, whale, alligator, and shark.
  • Calf: Meaning a young cow. Originated from the ancient root word "gel - to swell" (womb, fetus, young of an animal).
  • Cattle: In the 13C the word cattle referred to moveable property, especially livestock. It began to be limited to bulls and cows beginning in the late 16th century.
  • COW: From the Anglo-Saxton "cu", plural "cy", Dutch "koe", German "kuh", or Swedish "ko." Probably originated from the sound cattle produce when lowing. (A deep, low sound i.e. "moo").
  • Heifer: A cow that has yet to bear young. (origin unknown). Beginning in the 1830s the word was employed as slang to denote a woman or girl.
  • Steer: Basic meaning: a young ox. In ancient German "steuraz", Gothic "stiur." Believed to have to evolve from the root word "steu-ro" meaning "strength, sturdiness".
  • dictionary
    The source of these words' etymology

    Uncle Bear is a writer and researcher in North Carolina. He can be reached through: