keep a cow

Dennis R. Preston preston at MSU.EDU
Sat Apr 23 21:49:05 UTC 2005

"Don't have a cow" is much much older than the Simpsons.


>My father (b. 1900, Minnesota) said the same thing (chase, that is).  Never
>heard "keep a cow," but might there be some connection with the Simpsons'
>"Don't have a cow"?  I never watched the show, so I don't really know what
>the phrase means.
>At 12:22 PM 4/23/2005 -0700, you wrote:
>>My grandfather also used to say, "Tell him to go chase himself !"
>>The phrase is very well attested in print. (See HDAS. Buy one if possible.)
>>What he did not say was "Go fuck yourself."  IIRC, John Dos Passos was the
>>first to put this in print, with ref. (again, if IIRC) to WW I.
>>Roger Shuy <rshuy at MONTANA.COM> wrote:
>>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>Sender: American Dialect Society
>>Poster: Roger Shuy
>>Subject: Re: =?ISO-8859-1?B?oCCgIKA=?= keep a cow
>>on 4/23/05 9:58 AM, RonButters at AOL.COM at RonButters at AOL.COM wrote:
>>>  ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>>  -----------------------
>>>  Sender: American Dialect Society
>>>  Poster: RonButters at AOL.COM
>>>  Subject: =?ISO-8859-1?Q?Re:=20=A0=20=A0=20=A0=20keep=20a=20cow?=
>>--> -
>>>  In a message dated 4/23/05 9:51:30 AM, rshuy at MONTANA.COM writes:
>>>>  My late father, who would be 101 now if he were still alive, used some
>>>>  expressions that I've not heard from others. I wonder if any one else has
>>>>  heard the expression of disgust said to someone else, "Oh, go keep a cow."
>>>>  He lived all his life in central to northern Ohio.
>>>>  Roger
>>>  This seems to me to mean the same thing as "Oh, go fly a kite," which was
>>>  very common in east-central Iowa in the 1950s. "Oh, go keep a cow" sounds
>>>  vaguely
>>>  familiar, but I can't say for sure that any of my grandparents used it (or
>>>  didn't).
>>He also used to say, "Go chase yourself" and I wonder if he was alone in
>>this too.
>>Do You Yahoo!?
>>Tired of spam?  Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around

Dennis R. Preston
University Distinguished Professor of Linguistics
Department of Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic, Asian, and African Languages
A-740 Wells Hall
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824
Phone: (517) 432-3099
Fax: (517) 432-2736
preston at

More information about the Ads-l mailing list