The (holy) cow: Bossie or Bessie?

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OHIO.EDU
Thu Apr 27 16:43:24 UTC 2006

It's "Bossie" for me too, from my Minnesota farm childhood; I've never
heard "Bessie."  And we called the cows in by yelling "Come, boss, come,
bossie!"--not the old "Co Boss" cited by somebody or other--Kurath, maybe?


At 11:54 AM 4/27/2006, you 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."
>I have never heard the name Bessie for a cow. Bossie or (as noted
>elsewhere) Elsie are cow names--and I would say Bossie was more
>prototypical (for me) than Elsie.
>Barbara Need
>>---- 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 -

The American Dialect Society -

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