Though these days the term wordmonger refers to "a writer or speaker who uses language pretentiously or carelessly," please join me in proposing a new meaning. A fishmonger appreciates and promotes fish, therefore, a wordmonger does the same for words.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Cow Slang


Cow Slang

The Old English word cow came through Proto-Germanic tongues from Proto-Indo-European. Etymologists aren’t sure, but mostly assume it is an onomatopoeic term mimicking the lowing of cattle.

Cow-related slang abounds:

Cow-feed is a British Armed services term meaning salad or raw vegetables.

Since 1955 the term cowie has referred to a western film.

British and American cyclists refer to handlebars as cow-horns.

Cow-pat, cow-pattie & cow pie arrived in the language in the 1950s, meaning a single dropping from a cow, calf, or bull.

Cowyard-confetti is an Australian term born in 1920, meaning nonsense. Not surprisingly, ten years later cow-confetti was born – another Australian term, a kinder, gentler term for the crasser, tangentially cow-related term bullshit.

In cricket, the terms cow-corner & cow-shot refer to an oft-ignored segment of the field, & a shot into or through that area. This was born of the thought that cows could graze there unmolested during a game.

Though cowboy is most likely derived from caballero, it looks as though it's a cow-related term. Cowboy has many meanings: a bow-legged man, a minor criminal given to violence, a know-it all, a young, inexperienced driver, & someone unqualified or irresponsible. Since 1920, members of the Royal British Navy have referred to baked beans as cowboys (synonyms include prairie rash & yippee beans).

In Canada, a farmer’s straw hat can be referred to as a cow’s breakfast.

Which of these cow-related terms are new to you? Any other thoughts regarding the use or abuse of the word cow?



6 comments:

  1. The Wordmonger never ceases to amaze! I only knew cow pie and of course cowboy, but not in the meaning of baked beans. It was odd to discover when I went to England that the Brits consider baked beans--which they eat on toast--to be American. The most popular brand is Heinz, but they're not at all like our pork and beans. More of a tomatoey sauce than our molasses-y Boston baked beans, and not tangy like our barbeque beans.

    I love the idea of a straw hat being a cow's breakfast.

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  2. What a fun word, Charlie. I never knew most of those terms. I do know about cow pie. When we were kids, my two younger brothers threw dried cow pies at each other. Bored, they gathered up fresher and fresher pies until I had to step in and tell them to knock it off. Ha!

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  3. What a fun word, Charlie. I never knew most of those terms. I do know about cow pie. When we were kids, my two younger brothers threw dried cow pies at each other. Bored, they gathered up fresher and fresher pies until I had to step in and tell them to knock it off. Ha!

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  4. Hey Anne & Jean Ann, Nothing like a cow pie slinging party for a couple of brothers, & I'm with you Anne, I hadn't previously heard that cowboys & baked beans were synonymous.

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  5. Well...you got me this time. I have never heard of most of these. Like Anne, just cowpie and cowboy. And, I have no anecdotes relating to either one of them. Aren't I boring this morning. But, you never are!

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  6. Christine,
    You & your Treegirls are never boring.

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