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Dutchess_III's avatar

Is there such a word as "cowing," as in "The Quarter horse is good at cowing."?

Asked by Dutchess_III (42438points) August 1st, 2015

My friend is selling her quarter horses, and we were working up the ad. She wanted me to put that sentence in, that said they were good at “cowing,” but I said, “There is no such word!”

She insisted that there is. She started to explain what it meant, and I interrupted and said, “I know what you mean by it, but there is no such word!”

She’s a little miffed and she is never wrong!

Of course, I can’t find it, only variations of:
“To cow,
verb (used with object) frighten with threats, violence, etc.; intimidate; overawe.”

Cower, etc.

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13 Answers

janbb's avatar

It is a word that means to intimidate. I don’t know what she meant by it in this instance. It might be a specific term used in horse lingo; maybe if you had listened to her you would have learned something.

thorninmud's avatar

Seems to be a real thing. From the Lions Press Horseman’s Dictionary:


Term used to describe a cutting horse that is completely focused on the cow that the horse is working

Dutchess_III's avatar

Thank you @thorninmud. Could you include the link? It just strikes me as somewhat ignorant.

I know what she meant @janbb. I used to own a quarter horse. I would have never said I was good at quarter horsing,though. She refinishes furniture, and she’s good at it. I would never say she’s good at furnitureing.

thorninmud's avatar

And here’s an example of usage (from here):

Pounds says that it’s common for riders to allow their horse to fade away from the cow. They may be even with the cow, but their horse and the cow aren’t engaged, and that affects the cow’s energy level and momentum.

“When the horse quits cowing, the cow feels that,” Pounds says. “They feel the pressure, or the lack of. The horse doesn’t need to crowd the cow and create his own difficulty, but he needs to keep momentum and rate.”

zenvelo's avatar

Here is a video of a rider playing guitar while the horse demonstrates cowing.

@Dutchess_III Odd to me that you consider he use of jargon as ignorant. A lot of cowboys would say you don’t know much about cutting cattle.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I think the word as a verb was more common in literature of the 18th & 19th century. I know I’ve memories of people being “cowed” more than once in works by Dickens, Hardy, Thackery,etc. Specifically, I remember a class discussion in my sophomore year of high school in reference to what I think was “A Tale of Two Cities” where the word showed up. I wonder if it has any relationship to the word coward?

canidmajor's avatar

Had I seen that sentence in that context, I would have known exactly what was meant, whether or not “cowing ” was a “real” word or not. Not sure why, since you said you understood what she meant, this is an issue for you.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I always heard it as cutting. But interesting, I guess cowing works too.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Ok, they they are using as the word “cow” as a “verb (used with object)
1. To frighten with threats, violence, etc.; intimidate; overawe.”

“cowed, cow¬∑ing, cows: To frighten or subdue with threats or a show of force.”

Another form of it would be “cowering,” which is what happens when someone is cowing you.

Or “She was cowed into submission.”

So it could apply to humans and any other animal, not just cows.

Dutchess_III's avatar

So, if I have this right, the sentence “He’s horrible about cowing women,” makes sense. It means he threatens them and scares them until they cower and he’s an asshole.

So the proper sentence is “They’re good at cowing cows….” But, in cuttin’ horse jargon, it’s just been shortened to “Cowing,” and the animal, cows, is assumed.

@stanleybmanly I’m sure it is related to coward. I wonder if cows were so-named because they are easily cowed?

zenvelo's avatar

So, etymologically, it looks like cow as a transitive verb representing intimidation is from the Danish kue to subdue. But coward is Middle English from Anglo-French cuard which means tail as in tail between the legs.

Yet in the sense of a Quarter Horse it is a bit of jargon. According to The Horseman’s Illustrated Dictionary: cowing – Of a cutting horse, completely focused on the cow that the horse is working. (Page 43)

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