cow beast

cow beast n [Brit dial; EDD at cow sb.1 II.1.(10) (with further citations in Suppl. and at beast sb. 1 [Suf.1]). Not treated in OED, but found at least as early as 1582 and appar esp common in east Anglia.] chiefly Sth, S Midl, West; formerly also NEast old-fash Cf beast n B2, cattle beast n, cow brute n, cow critter n, horse beast n

A domestic bovine animal—sometimes used spec as a euphem for a bull.

1659 in 1897 Steiner Hist. Menunkatuck Plantation 243 csCT, Six men are appointed each to provide a bull for the town’s use, and they are “allowed 4d. for every cow beast yt. is above 2 years old for Bulling.” 1712 in 1886 Elting Dutch Communities Hudson R. 54 seNY, And each and every horse or cow beast so taken in dammage shall pay a peace nine pence for a fine. 1829 Charleston Courier (SC) 6 Aug [2]/1, [A correspondent of the Mobile (AL) Commerical Register recounting his experiences in TX:] It is a positive fact, that it is less expensive to raise a cow beast of 3 years old, than to raise a chicken of one year old. 1847 Cherokee Advocate (Tahlequah OK) 25 Feb 3/6, [Advt for a lost horse:] Branded with the letter D. on the shoulder, as well as I recollect. A private mark on her hindpart, done I suppose by a cow beast, that cannot be easily defaced. 1867 Harris Sut Lovingood Yarns 100 TN, The Mills bull’s a mity smart critter, tu be only a cow beas’. 1871 Star of the Valley (Newville PA) 5 Jan [2]/3, I am sure that at the present time, there is not one horse or cow beast to every square mile of the country [=Baja California]. 1887 Clarion (Jackson MS) 11 May [2]/5, [Letter:] Some time since, I shipped from Starkville to Sandersville, Miss., a grown cow beast. 1909 Springfield Sun. Republican (MA) 22 Aug 20/4 cwVA, “No, ma’am,” replied the mountain maid, “that there that you hear is a cow beast.” “Cow beast,” in impolite language, I found to be a “bull.” 1918 Palm Beach Post (W. Palm Beach FL) 3 Apr 6/4, The state or government cannot come in and take charge of the situation until you have voted for compulsory dipping of cattle, so we have the legal authority to dip every cow beast in the quarantined portion of your county. 1952 Brown NC Folkl. 1.530 wNC, Cow-beast. . . A cow, any member of the bovine family. 1953 Fairbury Daily News (NE) 30 Nov 3/4, [Advt:] Taken up—Cow beast. Owner may have by claiming and paying expenses. 1956 Herald & News (Klamath Falls OR) 28 Oct mag sec 5/5, These cows are wintered in the pastures and not a single supplementary feeding is made to any cow beast on the place. 1968 DARE (Qu. K23, Words used by women or in mixed company for a bull) Inf WV2, Cow beast. 1974 Raleigh Reg. Beckley Post–Herald (WV) 20 Oct 14/1, In its place came a big white block of salt which was deposited in a choice area of the pasture with directions for the cow beast to lick her salt from this block.

Etymological Supplement:

1582 in 1987 Emmison Essex Wills; The Archdeaconry Courts 1577-1584 (Essex Record Office Publications no. 96) 158, To Sybil my wife 1 bed . . , 2 cow beasts with one cow bullock, a sheep with the profit, 2 hutches [etc].

1623 in 1772 Swinden Hist. and Antiquities of Great Yarmouth 828, The said B. A. B. and C. . . shall and may . . have, retain, and take . . all duties of and for neat and cow beasts feeding and to be fed on the common of the said town of Great Yarmouth.


1739 Blomefield Essay Towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk 1.44, A fair Book of their Accompts and Lands, is still kept in the Church Chest, out of which I learned the following Particulars: That in 1531, St. John’s Gild had a Stock of 30 Cow Beasts belonging to them.


1756 Ipswich Jrl. 18 Dec 4/2, [Advt:] A farm at Wissett, . . consisting of a Barn, Stable, and One hundred and sixty Acres of good arable and pasture Lands, . . besides the Right of depasturing six Horses, or Cow-Beasts, upon Rumburgh Green.