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Thread: a sacred cow

  1. #1
    sara88 is offline Member
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    a sacred cow

    Hello friends
    Sacred cow is a noun which means:
    a belief, custom, etc. that people support and do not question or criticize.
    Ex:
    They did not dare to challenge the sacred cow of parliamentary democracy.
    Another example:
    Don't allow any sacred cow to keep you from eliminating items from your calender and "to do" lists.

    Now, what I want is:
    1) More examples with this expression to see more its natural usages.Ex: can we say for a group of people who are discussing a main belief amongst them and which seems not logical: Stop thinking or believing in such a sacred cow! (of course group of friends and in a friendly way).
    2)Is it a common expression? I mean do we use it in everyday spoken English?
    3)I'm curious about knowing the link between a sacred cow in its literal meaning and the the diffinition above!!! Farthermore, is there any anecdote or story behind this two linking expressions; the sacred cow and the belief which is taken for granted???!
    Many thanks in advance for your help.
    Sara

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    Raymott's Avatar
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    Re: a sacred cow

    Quote Originally Posted by sara88 View Post
    Hello friends
    Sacred cow is a noun which means:
    a belief, custom, etc. that people support and do not question or criticize.
    Ex:
    They did not dare to challenge the sacred cow of parliamentary democracy.
    Another example:
    Don't allow any sacred cow to keep you from eliminating items from your calender and "to do" lists.

    Now, what I want is:
    1) More examples with this expression to see more its natural usages.Ex: can we say for a group of people who are discussing a main belief amongst them and which seems not logical: Stop thinking or believing in such a sacred cow! (of course group of friends and in a friendly way).
    2)Is it a common expression? I mean do we use it in everyday spoken English?
    3)I'm curious about knowing the link between a sacred cow in its literal meaning and the the diffinition above!!! Farthermore, is there any anecdote or story behind this two linking expressions; the sacred cow and the belief which is taken for granted???!
    Many thanks in advance for your help.
    Sara
    They did not dare to challenge the sacred cow of parliamentary democracy. This sounds OK.
    Don't allow any sacred cow to keep you from eliminating items from your calender and "to do" lists. This sounds strange. Sacred cows don't normally do that.
    Cows are sacred to Hindus.
    Sacred cow
    sacred cow - Definitions from Dictionary.com

    Stop thinking or believing in such a sacred cow! Yes, that's a good way to use it.
    2. Yes it's a common expression. Anything that is taboo, that you aren't allowed to question in your society (but which is still doubtful) is a sacred cow.

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    sara88 is offline Member
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    Re: a sacred cow

    I can understand from that that we can even call some people, who don't allow criticizm or they think they are over critics, sacred cows!!!
    right?!

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    Raymott's Avatar
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    Re: a sacred cow

    Quote Originally Posted by sara88 View Post
    I can understand from that that we can even call some people, who don't allow criticizm or they think they are over critics, sacred cows!!!
    right?!
    Yes, you could.

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    susiedqq is offline Key Member
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    Re: a sacred cow

    A women's group sponsored an ice cream social for many years to raise money for their club. After about 15 years, some of the new members did not want to put on the social again, saying that it was not a good money maker and was too much work. Many of the older members thought they should continue the event, even if it did not make money. One of the younger members said, "They just won't let that sacred cow die, will they?"

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    Re: a sacred cow

    "Sacred cow" is a reference to Hinduism, as someone mentioned above. I have always used it cynically. Don't quote me on this, but I think that the phrase started as a criticism - India has had food supply problems in the past, which struck many Westerners as silly because cows seemed to roam around freely. Cows are food, so why is anyone hungry if there are still cows walking around? I think this "absurdity" (hungry people surrounded by "food") led to the use of "sacred cow" as a criticism for people who do something, even though they would be better off not doing it. (At least, that's how the use of the phrase developed in my home area. It might be different in other areas.)

    The example above (about the ice cream social) is perfect - there was no net benefit to doing the ice cream social. The women would be better off if they did something else to raise money. However, for reasons that don't really make sense to outsiders (and new people), the women chose to continue doing the social. It had become important to them, so they continued to do it, even though it brought them no visible benefit.

    In general, I guess you could say that a "sacred cow" is a thing or action that you keep or do because that thing or action has a special meaning to you, but not to others. (Others usually think it's silly.)

    (As a side note, I have a lot of respect for Hinduism. I'm sorry if anyone is offended by words like "absurdity," but I'm trying to explain where the phrase seems to come from. I think that, if you understand the origins of a phrase, it helps you understand how to use it. Sometimes a phrase enters the vernacular because of ignorance or meanness - like "gypped," which derives from gypsy, suggesting that gypsies commonly cheat others. If you know where the phrase comes from, you can use it wisely, reducing the risk of inadvertantly offending someone with your usage. Anyhoo. ) )

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    Joseph0727 is offline Newbie
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    Smile Re: a sacred cow

    The term sacred cow has passed into the English language to mean an object or practice which is considered immune from criticism, especially unreasonably so.The phrase is based on a popular understanding of the status of cows as 'sacred' in some Asian religions. (Ref. Wikipedia)

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