cow (n.) Look up cow at
Old English cu "cow," from Proto-Germanic *kwon (cognates: Old Frisian ku, Middle Dutch coe, Dutch koe, Old High German kuo, German Kuh, Old Norse kyr, Danish, Swedish ko), earlier *kwom, from PIE *gwou- "cow, ox, bull" (cognates Sanskrit gaus, Greek bous, Latin bov-, Old Irish bo, Latvian guovs, Armenian gaus "cow," Slovak hovado "ox"), perhaps ultimately imitative of lowing (compare Sumerian gu, Chinese ngu, ngo "ox"). In Germanic and Celtic, of females only; in most other languages, of either gender. Other "cow" words sometimes are from roots meaning "horn, horned," such as Lithuanian karve, Old Church Slavonic krava. Compare kine.
cow (v.) Look up cow at
"intimidate," c. 1600, probably from Old Norse kuga "oppress," which is of unknown origin, but perhaps having something to do with cow (n.) on the notion of easily herded. Related: Cowed; cowing.