"Holy cow!" (and similar) is an exclamation of surprise used mostly in the United States, Canada, Australia, and England and is a minced oath or euphemism for "Holy Christ!" The expression dates to at least 1905, and its earliest known appearance was in a tongue-in-cheek letter to the editor: "A lover of the cow writes to this column to protest against a certain variety of Hindu oath having to do with the vain use of the name of the milk producer. There is the profane exclamations, "holy cow!" and, "By the stomach of the eternal cow!"" The phrase appears to have been adopted as a means to avoid penalties for using obscene or indecent language and may have been based on a general awareness of the holiness of cows in some religious traditions.
From the Dictionary of American Slang (1960):
Expressions such as "Holy buckets!", "Holy underwear!", etc. also employ a play-on-words, "holy" implying "riddled with holes". Paul Beale, however, revised Eric Partridge's A Dictionary of Catch Phrase and cites a different origin:
The phrase "Holy cow!" was used by baseball players at least as early as 1913 and probably much earlier. It became associated with several American baseball broadcasters. The phrase may have originated with reporter and broadcaster Halsey Hall who worked in Minneapolis, Minnesota from 1919 until his death in 1977. According to Paul Dickson, New Orleans radio announcer Jack Holiday also used the phrase on broadcasts of the minor-league New Orleans Pelicans in the 1930s. Harry Caray was the broadcaster for the St. Louis Cardinals (1945–1969), Oakland Athletics (1970), Chicago White Sox (1971–1981), and Chicago Cubs (1982–1997), and he began using it early in his career in order to prevent himself from lapsing into vulgarity. New York Yankees shortstop and announcer Phil Rizzuto was also well-known for the phrase; when the Yankees honored him following his retirement, the ceremony included a real cow with a halo prop on its head. 1950s Milwaukee Braves broadcaster Earl Gillespie was also known for this expression.
Holy cow may refer to:
Holy cow (expression), an exclamation of surprise
Cattle in religion, particularly in Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, and ancient Egyptian religion
Bull (mythology), as it pertains to ancient mythology
Holy Cow: A Modern-Day Dairy Tale, a novel by David DuchovnyHoly shit
Holy shit may refer to:
Holy Shit (band), a 2000s indie rock band formed by Matt Fishbeck and Ariel Pink
Holy Shit, 2003 self-titled EP
Holy Shit (album), a 2011 album by Living with Lions
"Holy Shit", a song by Father John Misty, appearing his 2015 album I Love You, Honeybear
"Holy Shit!", a song by Against Me!, appearing on its 2005 album Searching for a Former Clarity
"Holy shit", a jocular translation by art historian Cecila Klein of the divine excrement offered in the rites of Aztec goddess Tlazolteotl
Holy Shit (You've Got to Vote), a 2016 video by Rachel Bloom
"Holy shit", a vulgar variant of the "holy cow" expressionSacred cow
Sacred cow may refer to:
Sacred cow (idiom), something considered (perhaps unreasonably) immune from question or criticism
Holy cow (expression), a variant idiom
Cattle in religion and mythology, object of reverence, including:
Sacred bull, including ancient religions
Bull of Heaven in Sumerian mythology
Auðumbla and Gavaevodata, the primeval cows of Norse and Zoroastrian mythology
Tauroctony, the ritual bull-slaying of Mithraism
Red heifer, a sacred sacrifice in Judaism
Apis, the Egyptian sacred bullSacred cow (idiom)
Sacred cow is an idiom, a figurative reference to sacred cows in some religions. This idiom is thought to originate in American English, although similar or even identical idioms occur in many other languages.
The idiom is based on the popular understanding of the elevated place of cows in Hinduism and appears to have emerged in America in the late 19th century. The reverence for cows in the traditionally agrarian Vedic Hindu society 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 cows milk. A literal sacred cow or sacred bull is an actual cow or bull that is treated with sincere respect. A figurative sacred cow is a figure of speech for something considered immune from question or criticism, especially unreasonably so.