The (holy) cow: Bossie or Bessie?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Apr 27 14:29:13 UTC 2006

At 10:25 AM -0200 4/27/06, Charles Doyle wrote:
>It's my impression that once English speakers stopped
>learning Latin, the bovinym "Bossie" became opaque, and so
>it was replaced (by folk-etymology or whatever) with the
>more ordinary female name "Bessie."

For me, growing up in NYC c. 1950, where cows were animals I knew
from commercials and ads, the archetypal, if not holy, cow was Elsie.


>---- Original message ----
>>Date: Wed, 26 Apr 2006 17:41:40 -0400
>>From: Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
>>Subject: Re: Holy cow! (1917)
>>---------------------- Information from the mail header ----
>>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-
>>Poster:       Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
>>Subject:      Re: Holy cow! (1917)
>>Isn't the default name for a cow "Bossie"? Cf. various
>writings for childre=
>>and the intracampusly-famous sports cheer of the University
>of California
>>Farm, "Bossie! Bossie! Cow! Cow!"
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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