sacred cow


sacred cow


  • something that people believe or accept as true without questioning it.
  • being unreasonably immune from criticism or opposition.
  • an institution, idea, or custom that is held to be above criticism.
  • something that people do not like to question.
  • a taboo subject.
  • something that many people think is too important to change, question, or criticize.
  • something that cannot be interfered with or harmed in any way.

Examples in Sentences

  1. The journalist esteemed too many sacred cows.
  2. The old governmgent program has become a sacred cow.
  3. Christianity is a sacred cow among many people.
  4. The priest was considered a sacred cow among his congregants.
  5. They couldn’t dare oppose the sacred cow of legislative democracy.
  6. Prince Harry advised the people not to make a sacred cow of the monarchy.
  7. The new head teacher said the school would have numerous changes as nothing is a sacred cow.
  8. The judiciary remains a sacred cow, despite growing evidence that fatal mistakes have been made.


The phrase derives from the Hindu belief that cows are sacred animals that should not be harmed. The reverence for cows in the traditionally Hindu community stems from the reluctance to harm an animal whose milk humans consume after being weaned off the mother’s milk. In Jewish tradition, there is a similar moral stigma against cooking veal (calf meat) in cow’s milk. A literal sacred cow or sacred bull is an actual cow or bull that is treated with sincere respect.

Its earliest use in America was in the 1800s. Although the idiom is believed to originate in American English, it has identical expressions in other languages. The phrase is used to describe something or someone who is impervious to criticism, reproach, or questioning, especially when it is unreasonable.

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