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Holy cow

Posted by Michael on September 22, 2001

In Reply to: Holy cow posted by ESC on August 07, 2001

: : was this only a modern phrase..

: I don't know. Here's what I found: "Holy smoke!, 1889; Holy cats!, Holy mackerel!, both 1803; Holy Moses!, 1906, Holy cow!, 1942." From I Hear America Talking: An Illustrated History of American Words and Phrases by Stuart Berg Flexner (Von Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York, 1976).

: It would seem to possibly refer to India's consideration of the cow as holy. A man from India explained to me that the cow was considered holy in old times because the mothers, a lot of times, died during childbirth. The cows took over (with their milk, of course) as a sort of surrogate mother. Of course, I have basis as to whether this is factual, but it appeased my curiosity for the time.