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Sacred cow

The idiom sacred cow comes from American English. We will look at the meaning of the term sacred cow, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

A sacred cow is something that is beyond reproach, something that is above criticism, something that cannot be breached. The term sacred cow, perhaps surprisingly, is an Americanism that first appears around 1890. It is a metaphor that stems from the idea that the Hindu religion elevates certain cows and bulls to a place of veneration. In fact, the Hindu religion simply holds cows in high esteem due to their usefulness and disposition, as a part of the religion’s general respect for life. Today, this basic misunderstanding of Hindu belief and culture survives in the idiom sacred cow.


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Examples

President-elect Donald Trump is being attacked by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for saying he and the Republicans will dismantle Obama Care as if it is some sacred cow. (The State Journal-Register)

This is apparent from Mr. Trump’s suggestion, after taking a phone call from Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, that a “one-China” policy is no sacred cow for him. (The Washington Times)

Other conversation topics might include: renewal (or not) of the two-year term offered to a series of federal employees, freezing or reducing the number of vacancies for federal positions, and cutting some federal benefits that have become a sacred cow for an administration in full process of ossification and fossilization. (The Saipan Tribune)

He said that Nawaz Sharif is a sacred cow and therefore no action is being taken against him while on the other hand, the PPP’s founder was hanged. (The Nation)

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