Cattle grazing in a green pasture.
The herd of cows in the field is an example of cattle.
- Archaic farm animals collectively; livestock
- domesticated oxen collectively; esp., cows, bulls, and steers
- people in the mass: a contemptuous term
Origin of cattleMiddle English and Anglo-French catel (OFr chatel) from Medieval Latin captale, property, stock from Classical Latin capitalis, principal, chief from caput, head: origin, originally sense in variant, variety chattel
- a. Any of various domesticated ruminant mammals of the genus Bos, including cows, steers, bulls, and oxen, often raised for meat and dairy products.b. Any of various similar wild or domesticated bovine mammals, such as the anoa or the gaur.
- Humans, especially when viewed contemptuously or as a mob.
Origin of cattleMiddle English catel property, livestock from Old North French from Old Provençal capdal from Medieval Latin capitāle holdings, funds from neuter of Latin capitālis principal, original from caput head ; see kaput- in Indo-European roots.
(countable and uncountable, plural cattle) (usually used as plural)
- Domesticated bovine animals (cows, bulls, steers etc).
- Do you want to raise cattle?
- Certain other livestock, such as sheep, pigs or horses.
- (pejorative, figuratively) People who resemble domesticated bovine animals in behavior or destiny.
- 1684, Records of the Colony of New Plymouth, in New England, published 1856:
- 1684 July. Mistris Dorothy Gray, Adminnestratrix of the Goods and Cattles of Mr Edward Gray, late of Plymouth, deceased, […]
- (uncountable, rare) Used in restricted contexts to refer to the meat derived from cattle.
There is no singular form for "cattle", and the words for the particular types of cattle are used: "bull", "calf" etc.
- There are five cows and a calf in that herd of cattle.
Where the type is unknown, "cow" is often used (although properly a cow is only an adult female).
- Is that a cow in the road?
When used as an uncountable noun, the phrase "head of cattle" is used for countable quantities of cattle.
- He sold 50 head of cattle last year.
However, "cattle" is often used as an ordinary plural rather than as as an uncountable noun.
- I have fifteen cattle.
In some circumstances the uncountable form is not used.
- How many cattle? (not how much cattle?).