Cash cows, cow-like truths, etc.

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by ThomasK, May 6, 2012.

  1. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    I loved that expression 'cash cow' so much that I wondered about similar funny/interesting/... metaphorical compounds containing a common animal.

    In Dutch we refer to
    - een waarheid als een koe [a truth like a cow], a truism
    - in koeien van letters [in cows of letters, i.e., in cow-sized, big letters]
    - spaarvarken [saving pig] - in French: cochon tirelire

    Do you have any such farm (...) animals in your language? ;-)
  2. terredepomme Senior Member

    Human Language
    쇠고집swegojip: a cow-stubornness.
  3. ancalimon Senior Member

    In Turkish we have one weird one that I remember.

    Dut yemiş bülbül gibi susmak. : To shut up like a nightingale that just ate a mulberry. (not to speak when you are supposed to speak)

    Why would a nightingale eat a mulberry and shut up? :)
    Last edited: May 8, 2012
  4. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    I love some fresh (apparent) non-sense, Ancalimon ;-), and as for you, TdP, only our donkeys are stubborn...
  5. terredepomme Senior Member

    Human Language
    The cows indigenous to East Asia are a bit different from European types of cows. They do not yield milk and are domesticated primarily for plowing. So they might seem a bit tough and stubborn compared to European cows.
  6. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    In Greek the only metaphor I have in mind referring to cows is:

    «Αρμέγω σαν την αγελάδα»
    /ar'meɣo san tin aʝe'laða/
    lit. "to milk [someone] like a cow"
    Verb «αρμέγω» /ar'meɣo/, from the Byzantine «ἀλμέγω» (al'meɣo), from the Classical «ἀμέλγω» (ă'mĕlgō)--> to express milk from a mammal, metaph. to squeeze out like milk (PIE *melg-, wiping, stroking; cf. Skt. मार्ष्टि (marsti), wipe off/out, remove; Lat. mulgere> Rom. mulge; It. mulgere; Eng. milk; Ger. melken).
    Fem. noun «αγελάδα» /aʝe'laða/, from the Hellenistic fem. noun «ἀγελάς» (ăgĕ'lās)--> cow, a derivation from the Classical fem. noun «ἀγέλη» (ă'gĕlē)--> herd, band. «Ἀγελάς» lit. means animal belonging to a herd (PIE base *agʰ-, to drive, move; cf. Skt. अजति (ajati), to drive; Lat. agere> It. agire, Fr. agir, Sp. cuidar; Eng. act).

    A few more metaphors starring other domestic animals:

    «Πεισματάρης σαν μουλάρι»
    /pizma'taris san mu'lari/
    lit. "stubborn as a mule"
    Adj. «πεισματάρης» /pizma'taris/ (masc.), from the Classical neuter noun «πεῖσμα» ('peismă)--> lit. the stern-cable by which the ship was made fast to the land, metaph. (since Hellenistic times), stubborness, tenacity (PIE base *bʰeydʰ-, to command, persuade, trust; cf. Lat. fīdere, Proto-Slavic *běda, Eng. bid/bide).
    Neut. noun «μουλάρι» /mu'lari/ a Byzantine diminutive of the Latin loan word mūlus, the mule.
    «Ήρεμος σαν αρνάκι»
    /'iremos san ar'naci/
    lit. "serene as a lamb"
    Adj. «Ήρεμος» /iremos/ (masc.) from the Classical verb «ἠρεμέω/ἠρεμῶ» (ērĕ'mĕō [uncontracted]/ērĕ'mō [contracted])--> to be still, keep quiet, at rest (with unknown etymology, however some philologists see a link with Skt. रमते (ramate), to stand still; Eng. rest).
    Neut. noun «αρνάκι» /ar'naci/, diminutive of the Byzantine diminutive «ἀρνίον» (ar'nion)--> lamb, of the Classical masc. noun «ἀρνός» (ăr'nŏs)--> sheep of either sex, lamb (with obscure etymology, however some philologists see a link with Arm. գառ (garn), lamb).
    Last edited: May 8, 2012
  7. sakvaka

    sakvaka Senior Member


    lehmä (cow)
    - lehmänhermot = nerves of steel (lit. 'nerves of a cow')
    - oma lehmä ojassa = an axe to grind (lit. 'your own cow in the ditch')
    - kuin lehmän henkäys = like the breath of a cow (in several expressions to refer to a warm and humid blow of air)

    sika (swine)
    - sikailla = pig out / talk vulgarities etc.
    - ostaa sika säkissä = buy a pig in a poke (lit. 'in a sack')
    - Senkin sika! You dirty pig!
    - sikamainen temppu = dirty (lit. 'pig-like') trick

    porsas (pig)
    - porsastaa (pig out / act like a pig / cause mess)

    aasi (donkey)
    - Senkin aasi! You idiot!
    - aasinsilta = donkey's bridge
  8. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Great information.

    Turkish: I think that is quite plausible indeed.
    Greek: I somehow recognize those expressions, but the milking: we'd do it with an issue or something
    Finnish: impressive how you refer to cows and donkey, but I am impressed by how pigs inspire you ;-) (we'd buy katten/ cats in bags)
  9. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    I remembered something in French: vachement, an adjective based on vache, cow! But while checking on that, I noticed that 'vache' used to be an adj. and can mean 'ugly' or something. Lady Prudence might tell us whether vache(ment)-ité has to do with cows indeed. ;-)
  10. AutumnOwl Senior Member

    Som en kalv på grönbete
    - like a calf in a green meadow, being able to enjoy/take advantage of the situation
    Vara kolugn - be calm as a cow
    Stark som en oxe - as strong as an ox
    From som ett lamm - as peaceful as a lamb
    Ljuga som en häst travar - to lie as a trotting horse
    Skrika som en stucken gris - yell like needled pig, very loudly
    Smutsig som en gris - as dirty as a pig
    Tjock som en gris - as fat as a pig
    Stolt som en tupp - as proud as a cock
    Som yra höns - as dizzy hens
    Fattig som en kyrkråtta - as poor as a church mouse
  11. 0ana Member

    Romanian, Romania
    Hoping this is not too late, in Romanian we have "a se duce bou și a se întoarce vacă" ​translated: "to go a steer and come back a cow ", meaning to remain just as stupid after an experience (journey) that was supposed to enrich one's wisdom:)

    A nightingale is pretty small and maybe it might choke with a mulberry.
    Last edited: May 23, 2013
  12. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    Yes, “vachement” means “very” in a vulgar sort of French. In England, young people now say “bear” in the same sense: “bear good” = “vachement bon”.
  13. Ёж! Senior Member

    Russian: "как корова языком слизнула" -> something disappeared "as if a cow licked it away with its tongue".
  14. Grefsen

    Grefsen Senior Member

    Southern California
    English - United States

    melkeku - cow you milk (cash cow)

    - lucky pig, someone who is extremely fortunate (lucky bastard ;) )

    stuegris - couch pig, lazy person who spends a lot of time laying around watching television and eating junk food (couch potato)

    Is it ok in this thread to give examples of metaphorical compounds containing fish or animals you won't normally find on a farm?

    Last edited: May 25, 2013
  15. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    That reminds me of feestvarken in Dutch: the person who is being celebrated ("feast pig")...

    In the meantime I created a new 'fishy' thread...
  16. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
    In Russian we have lots of cow expressions. Here are some of them, I'm sure there are more:

    как корове седло /kak korove sedlo/ - like a saddle on a cow (when something is inappropriate, doesn't fit or looks ridiculous)
    как будто корову выбираешь /kak budto korovu vybiraesh/ - like you are chosing a cow (when someone takes too long to make a simple decision)
    священная корова /sviashennaya korova/ - sacred cow (I guess from hinduism, said sarcastically about something that is not questioned or challenged)
    чья бы корова мычала, а твоя бы молчала /tchia by korova mytchala a tvoya by molchala/ - if someone elses's cow can moo, yours should be quiet (said when a person expesses his opinion he has no place or moral ground to express)
    как корова на льду /kak korova na ldu/
    - like a cow on ice (said about someone who is awkward, especially skating)
  17. djmc Senior Member

    English - United Kingdom
    The French very commonly use vachement to mean very. "Il faisait vachement froid" = It was very cold. They also invoke a cow. If something goes wrong, a puncture when riding a bike or a tool dropping or breaking they might say "La vache". I don't think it is particular vulgar.

Share This Page