Ox, Oxen, beeves, bull, and steers

Rindamanv1

Member
Vietnamese- Viet Nam
Hi Everyone.

Can you help me to clear about these words: ox, oxen, beeves, bull and steers.
All of them talk about an animal, but i don't know when i should use which one.

Thank you very much!
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Beeves is archaic. Don't use it. Oxen is the plural of ox: one ox, two oxen. Ox is widely used for these animals in the distant past (the Bible or Anglo-Saxon England, for example). For most people today, who live in cities and don't work with these animals, the male animal is a bull. We know about cows and bulls. Possibly farmers still make a distinction between an ox, a steer, a bull, and a bullock (another name!), but I don't know what it is, and I suspect most people in cities wouldn't know. In everyday use, if you're not a farmer, say bull.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Oxen is the plural of ox. Ox is usually used when the animal is used to pull a plough, cart or wagon.
    Beeves is plural only and is used as (AE) jargon for cattle bred for meat. (It is not used in BE, which only uses "cattle.")
    Bull is the commonest word for male cattle used for breeding and also as a general term for male cattle.
    and
    Steer (AE) (BE = bullock) is a young bull between the ages of one year and four years and usually one which has been castrated.
     

    Rindamanv1

    Member
    Vietnamese- Viet Nam
    Beeves is archaic. Don't use it. Oxen is the plural of ox: one ox, two oxen. Ox is widely used for these animals in the distant past (the Bible or Anglo-Saxon England, for example). For most people today, who live in cities and don't work with these animals, the male animal is a bull. We know about cows and bulls. Possibly farmers still make a distinction between an ox, a steer, a bull, and a bullock (another name!), but I don't know what it is, and I suspect most people in cities wouldn't know. In everyday use, if you're not a farmer, say bull.
    Thanks a lot my friend. I am not a fammer. In fact, i have seen ox, oxen in many mythologys, novels, and cows, bulls in daily communication. May be, as you told, i should use cows and bulls for daily.
     

    Rindamanv1

    Member
    Vietnamese- Viet Nam
    Oxen is the plural of ox. Ox is usually used when the animal is used to pull a plough, cart or wagon.
    Beeves is plural only and is used as (AE) jargon for cattle bred for meat. (It is not used in BE, which only uses "cattle.")
    Bull is the commonest word for male cattle used for breeding and also as a general term for male cattle.
    and
    Steer (AE) (BE = bullock) is a young bull between the ages of one year and four years and usually one which has been castrated.
    Thank you friend. I get it.
    Bull/cow is the commonest for male/female animal.
    Ox is used when it pull somethings
    Steer for young bull or castrated bull
    beeves is used for cattle bred for meat.
    Is this right?
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Thank you friend. I get it.
    Bull/cow is the commonest for male/female animal.
    Ox is used when it pull somethings
    Steer for young bull or castrated bull
    beeves is used for cattle bred for meat.
    Is this right?
    Yes.
    Maybe beeves is not usually used.
    I agree. If you ever become a cattle farmer and talk to other cattle farmers and you are in America, then it is OK. :D
     

    Truffula

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Ox can actually be used for some other animals than cattle, if they're trained to harness; water buffalo and yak are some of them. Ox is still the common term used for bovine draft animals even by non-farmers, but the oddity of cattle is that there's no generic singular term for them. While we have all the words to describe particular ones (male, female, age, whether castrated, etc: cow, bull, calf, steer, heifer; cow is a female, bull is an intact male, calf is a baby, steer is a castrated male, heifer is a young female) we don't have any word for one animal who is Bos taurus.

    Recently the usage of "cow" has come to be this missing singular word. Hence "cow" is no longer always assumed to be a female; we have male cows in cartoons for children, for example the movie Barnyard. This seems to primarily be because people no longer actually understand what part of the anatomy of Bos taurus is a sexual characteristic: the male cows of Barnyard had udders. One can only guess they are male as their voice actors were cast as male.
     

    Hildy1

    Senior Member
    English - US and Canada
    Beeves must be an term of art in the industry. I've never heard it. Of course now I'll see it everywhere according to the law of diegogarcity.
    And now I will probably say the same thing about the word "diegogarcity".

    In my family we have for years been calling this phenomenon "the coracle effect", from the time when I said I didn't believe that such a boat ever existed. The ancient Britons may have been crazy, I said (they painted themselves blue), but they weren't stupid (how in the world can you steer a round boat?). I was wrong. And furthermore, in the next few weeks there were mentions of coracles everywhere.
     

    djmc

    Senior Member
    English - United Kingdom
    The usual usage in Britain
    Bull - uncastrated bovine used for breeding, fighting etc.
    Ox plural oxen -castrated animal normally used for haulage and used in pairs..
    Bullock - castrated animal destined to be eaten and normally young.
    Calf - young animal of either sex.
    Heifer - female animal before calving.
    Cow - older female animal used either breeding meat animals or milk.
    Cattle - generic plural for all of these.
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    The usual usage in Britain
    Bull - uncastrated bovine used for breeding, fighting etc.
    Ox plural oxen -castrated animal normally used for haulage and used in pairs..
    Bullock - castrated animal destined to be eaten and normally young.
    Calf - young animal of either sex.
    Heifer - female animal before calving.
    Cow - older female animal used either breeding meat animals or milk.
    Cattle - generic plural for all of these.
    The only change I would make for American usage would be to replace bullock with steer.

    I wouldn't expect to see/hear "beeves" anywhere but in a Western.
     

    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    And now I will probably say the same thing about the word "diegogarcity".

    In my family we have for years been calling this phenomenon "the coracle effect", from the time when I said I didn't believe that such a boat ever existed. The ancient Britons may have been crazy, I said (they painted themselves blue), but they weren't stupid (how in the world can you steer a round boat?). I was wrong. And furthermore, in the next few weeks there were mentions of coracles everywhere.
    I like the sound of "the coracle effect"!
    "Diegogarcity" was created on another website to fill just this need. It was modeled after "serendipity", because Serendip was an old name for Sri Lanka and Diego Garcia is a distant, exotic island. :)
     

    Rindamanv1

    Member
    Vietnamese- Viet Nam
    I like the sound of "the coracle effect"!
    "Diegogarcity" was created on another website to fill just this need. It was modeled after "serendipity", because Serendip was an old name for Sri Lanka and Diego Garcia is a distant, exotic island. :)
    Hey, friend. Can you tell me about the word "Diegogarcity"? I haven't seen that word at any dictonary. :(
     

    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Hi rindman,

    No, it hasn't become widely used, maybe because it's a long word that's kind of hard to say. In any case, it's a made up word from about ten years ago, and I think I've seen some professional linguists use it. Try googling it and the word origins website should come up. As I recall, the members there were trying to think of a word for that phenomenon where you you hear about something for the first time and then you start seeing it everywhere. One person suggested "serendipity", but they decided that wasn't good enough, so somebody suggested "diegogarcity". The word "serendipity" is based on "The Three Princes of Serendip".

    A similar case is "mondegreen" which was made up in 1950. You will find it in dictionaries nowadays, but 20 or 30 years ago you wouldn't.

    Cheers!:)
     
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    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    I've lived in Texas, but I never knew there was a difference between "steer" and "cattle"; or that steer (plural) are only the males; or that steers (the other plural) are castrated.

    Can one tell the difference between a steer and a bull from a distance? Is one bigger? Longer horns?

    Because if I have to get close enough to look under them...well, that's not going to happen. I will just call them all "cows" and and forget about it.
     

    djmc

    Senior Member
    English - United Kingdom
    Cows have udders, bullocks not much at all but can look like cows, bulls are often a lot bigger and more muscular, obviously have testicles and are often kept separately from the cows and heifers. In areas where they use AI it may be rare to see a bull. They are very different.
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    "Beeves" is also used in the KJ Bible, with the meaning "cattle" (Lev 22:19; Num 31:28-46 passim).

    Not that I would recommend 17th-century English for everyday use....
     

    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    I read this thread all the way through several times before finally understanding that "beeves" was supposed to have been a plural form of "beef". :idea::D

    So, I had definitely never heard it, not even in an American Western.
    I think the most recent sources in which I've seen "beeves" were written during the Civil War (in descriptions of supplies for armies on the march).
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    According to Black's Veterinary Dictionary (A&C Black, London 1988) the British usage is this (the footnotes are mine):

    * Calf - a young ox from birth to 6 or 9 months old
    Stag - a male castrated late in life
    Steer or stot - a young male ox, usually castrated and between the ages of 6 and 24 months
    Stirk - a young female of 6 to 12 months old
    § Bullock - a two-year-old (or more) castrated ox
    § Heifer - a year-old female up to the first calving
    Maiden heifer - a young cow that has not been allowed to breed
    Cow-heifer - a female that has calved once only
    * Bull - an uncastrated male
    * Cow - a female having had more than one calf

    * Only these are in common use among non-farmers
    § These are in very occasional use among non-farmers
     
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    Highland Thing

    Senior Member
    English, Welsh
    According to Black's Veterinary Dictionary (A&C Black, London 1988) the British usage is this (the footnotes are mine):

    * Calf - a young ox from birth to 6 or 9 months old
    Stag - a male castrated late in life
    Steer or stot - a young male ox, usually castreated and between the ages of 6 and 24 months
    Stirk - a young female of 6 to 12 months old
    § Bullock - a two-year-old (or more) castrated ox
    § Heifer - a year-old female up to the first calving
    Maiden heifer - a young cow that has not been allowed to breed
    Cow-heifer - a female that has calved once only
    * Bull - an uncastrated male
    * Cow - a female having had more than one calf

    * Only these are in common use among non-farmers
    § These are in very occasional use among non-farmers
    Steers and bullocks are the same thing, a male castrated cow. Bullocks tend to be older, but as castrated males don't last very long on beef farms, the term 'steer' predominates, in the UK as well as US. 'Bullock' is *widely* used by lay people, although here to mean a young male cow (whether castrated or not!). Heifers often stay heifers until they go into calving a second time.
     

    Rindamanv1

    Member
    Vietnamese- Viet Nam
    Hi rindman,

    No, it hasn't become widely used, maybe because it's a long word that's kind of hard to say. In any case, it's a made up word from about ten years ago, and I think I've seen some professional linguists use it. Try googling it and the word origins website should come up. As I recall, the members there were trying to think of a word for that phenomenon where you you hear about something for the first time and then you start seeing it everywhere. One person suggested "serendipity", but they decided that wasn't good enough, so somebody suggested "diegogarcity". The word "serendipity" is based on "The Three Princes of Serendip".

    A similar case is "mondegreen" which was made up in 1950. You will find it in dictionaries nowadays, but 20 or 30 years ago you wouldn't.

    Cheers!:)
    Thank you!

    My understanding is, "diegogarcity" tell about a new word was born and then it will be used more. Right? Friend.
     
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