Translations For 'Cow' & Other Cow-Related Words

The books 'A Million Acre Masterpiece' and 'Life as an Australian Horseman' have hundreds of photos of Australia's largest and most famous outback cattle stations. 'A Million Acre Masterpiece' also has a glossary explaining many of the uniquely Australian outback words and expressions used to describe various types of cattle, such as: ‘cleanskin’, ‘forest gnome’, ‘killer’, ‘piker’, ‘poddy’, ‘scrubber’, ‘stranger’ and  ‘micky’.

As is the case in many countries, many of these very specific terms are only understood by those working in the industry. 'Life as an Australian Horseman' also has a special chapter of rare bronco branding photographs.

Below are words for ‘cow’ in different languages. These translations have been gathered from various references plus an amazingly comprehensive site that lists the word for ‘cow’ in more than 500 different languages and dialects, Just Cows/Solo Vacas. This list was compiled be Eduardo Tobar of Madrid (Spain). (Thanks to Eduardo for permission to quote some of the information he has gathered.)

If you would like to suggest any additions or corrections (including punctuation, plurals etc), please do send them to me (via the customer comments page). Everyone who sends new & accurate rural translation information is entered into the 'handy person' prize draw.

Words for ‘Cow’ in Other Languages

Word for Cow Language & Country
Europe:
‘kÿr’ Icelandic (Iceland)
‘ko’ Danish (Denmark) and Swedish (Sweden)
‘koe’ Dutch (The Netherlands) and Flemish (Belgium)
‘ku’ Norwegian (Norway) and Yiddish (Germanic language of eastern European Jews)
‘kuh’ German (Germany)
‘kràva’ Czech (Czech republic)
‘krava’ Macedonian (Macedonia), Croatian (Croatia), Bulgarian (Bulgaria), Ukrainian (Ukraine), Slovak (Slovakia), Slovene (Slovenia), Serbian (Serbia) and Bosnia).
‘krowa’ Polish (Poland)
‘karova’ Belarusian (Belarus)
‘korova’ Russian (Russia)
‘karvé’ Lithuanian (Lithuania)
‘vache’ French (France)
‘vacca’ Italian (Italy)
‘vacâ’ Romanian (Romania)
‘vaca’ Portuguese (Portugal and Brazil) and Catalan (Spain, southern France)
‘vaca’ Spanish (Spain and many Spanish-speaking South American countries.) (The literal translation of ‘vaquero’ is ‘cow man’. ‘Buckaroo’ is common in some southern parts of the U.S., and it is thought to originate from ‘vaquero’ because the letter ‘v’ is pronounced as ‘b’ in Spanish.)
‘goys’ Latvian (Latvia)
‘lopë’ Albanian
‘behia’ Basque (South of France/northern Spain)
‘lehmä’ Finnish (Finland)
‘ayelada’ Greek (Greece)
Africa:
‘koei’ Afrikaans (South Africa) ('vee' - cattle [plural])
‘nkopo’ Bobe (Equatorial Guinea)
‘ngombo’ Bobangi (Congo)
‘ngombe’ Kikuyu (Kenya)
‘ng'ombe’ Swahili (Kenya & East Africa)
‘xaafu’ Bukusu (Kenya)
‘inkomazi’ Zulu (South Africa)
‘ente’ Kiga (Uganda, Tanzania & Congo)
‘sac’ Somali (Somalia)
‘saniya’ Hausa (Nigeria)
South America:
‘waka’ Quechua (mainly in Peru & Bolivia but also southern Columbia and Ecuador, northern-western Argentina and northern Chile)
‘qachu’ Aymara (mainly in Bolivia, but also Peru, Chile and Argentina)
‘vaca’ Spanish (many Spanish-speaking countries such as Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay and Peru)
‘vaca’ Portuguese (Portugal and Brazil)
Middle East:
‘baqara’ Arabic (Saudi Arabia)
‘parah’ Hebrew (Israel)
‘gow’ Dari (Afghanistan)
‘mange’ Kurdish (Iraq, Turkey and Syria)
Asia:
‘gay’ Hindi (India)
‘gaa’ Rajasthani (Rajasthan, India)
‘gaay’ Urdu (Pakistan)
'wua' Thai (Thailand)
‘nwa’ Burmese (Burma)
‘so’ Korean (Korea) ('amso' is the word for a female bovine)
‘ushi’ Japanese (Japan)
‘mu niu’ Mandarin (China)
‘ngau-na’ Cantonese (China)
Pacific:
‘kau’ Maori (New Zealand)
‘povi’ Samoan (Samoa)
‘bulumakau’ Fijian (Fiji)
‘pipi’ Hawaiian (Hawaii)
Britain:
‘cou’ Scottish (Lowland Scotland & some northern Ireland)
‘bò’ Irish (Ireland)
‘buwch’ Welsh (Wales)

Explanations for many uniquely Australian outback, cattle-related words are found in the book ‘ A Million Acre Masterpiece — Images of Australia's largest cattle stations.

Other Cow-related Words Used on Cattle Stations (Ranches)

Words for unbranded and feral cattle:

  • ‘cleanskin’ — Australia (cattle with no brand)
  • 'scrubber' — Australia (cunning wild cattle that hide in scrub)
  • ‘maverick’ — U.S.
  • 'ladinos' — southern U.S., eg Texas ('ladinos' means cunning brush-dwelling wild cattle)
  • 'cimarron' — American Spanish found in southern U.S., eg Texas, and Mexico. 'Cimarron' means wild, unbroken, untamed; and is used to refer to all livestock; such as horses, cattle, sheep, pigs etc.
  • ‘orejanos’ — Spanish-speaking South American countries
  • 'bigua' — Brazilian Portuguese

Words for gathering the cattle together into a mob:

  • ‘muster’ — Australia
  • ‘roundup’ — U.S. & Canada
  • 'rodear' — southern/most heavily Spanish influenced U.S. (historical term, meaning to circle round/gather in; which evolved into the word 'rodeo')
  • 'reuniendo' — Mexico
  • ‘acubilar’ — Spanish-speaking South American countries
  • ‘repuntar la hacienda’ — Argentina
  • 'ajuntar' or 'tocar' — Brazil

Words for a group of cattle:

  • ‘mob’ — Australia
  • ‘herd’ — U.S.
  • 'hato' — Mexico
  • 'rebanho' — Brazil
  • ‘ganado’ or ‘hacienda’ — Argentina
  • 'vacada' — some Spanish-speaking South American countries
  • ‘los ganados’ — means ‘the cattle’ in Spain and Spanish-speaking South American countries

Words for a group of cattle that take fright and rush off (most likely to be in the middle of the night):

  • ‘rush’ — Australia
  • ‘stampede’ — U.S.
  • ‘estampida’ — Spanish

Words for cattlework:

  • castrating, dehorning, vaccinating, branding, earmarking, tagging etc (no single term to sum this veterinary treatment & identification procedures up, other than 'yardwork' or 'branding') — Australia
  • 'doctoring' — U.S., Canada

Words for a track made by cattle:

  • ‘pad’ — Australia
  • ‘trail’ — U.S. & Canada
  • ‘cañadas’ — Spain

Standard basic Australian terms for cattle (ovines):

  • Cow — adult female ('une vache' — French; 'vaca' — Spanish)
  • Bull — adult or young adult male ('un taureau' — French; 'toro' — Spanish; 'touro' Portuguese; Portugaul & Brazil)
  • Bullock — adult male that has been castrated (testicles have been removed, so it cannot breed).
  • Steer — young adult male that has been castrated
  • Heifer — young adult female that is old enough to breed, or nearly so. Heifers have not had a calf, or they have only just had one.
  • Calf — baby bovine (far too young to breed)
  • Poddy calf — a calf that has lost its mother so it has been handfed — usually starting on milk, then hay and/or calf pellets (or just good grass). Ordinary calves are sometimes referred to as 'poddies' too, especially if they've got the pot belly typical of a hand-reared calf (which rarely look as muscly and well-proportioned as calves reared by their mothers). 'Poddy dodging' is flogging (stealing) calves (usually neighbours).
  • cracker cow (northern Australia only) — scrubby, poor quality cow good for not much at all (usually too bony even for the meatworks). Interestingly, 'cracker cow' is a term also used in Florida and southern Georgia (U.S.) to mean a poor quality scrub beast.
  • 'cattle' — plural. ('betail' — French)

There are also different nicknames for breeds; for example, Santa Gertrudis cattle are called 'Santas' in Australia, and 'Gerts' in America.

To view hundreds of fascinating images illustrating the life and landscapes on the world's largest cattle stations (ranches), with interesting captions and explanations of quirky and witty words and expressions, see 'A Million Acre Masterpiece' and 'Life as an Australian Horseman'.

Please note: Information on these translation pages is protected by copyright laws, like the rest of the website.

Many hours of work have been spent compiling these pages of translations, cross checking as much as possible, to ensure accuracy. But because I am not a linguistics expert all words and meanings translated here should be cross checked with other sources before being quoted, because I am not able to guarantee there are no errors.

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