I am just unable to understand why "don't have a cow" can mean "don't panic".

What is the origin of this expression?

What's more, If someone is getting flurried, can I say "he is having a cow"?

  • I'm moving this to ELU because etymology question are off-topic on ELL. – Matt Nov 27 '13 at 2:35

"have" can mean "give birth to". (As in, "She's having a baby.") Having a baby causes a lot of noise, excitement and distress. So imagine the fuss over having a cow!

I don't think "he's having a cow" is commonly used. I've only heard it in the expression "don't have a cow".

  • 3
    And: 'If my mother finds out, she'll have a cow' – Jim Nov 27 '13 at 3:15
  • 1
    @Jim Good point. Yes, I recognise that usage. – Pitarou Nov 27 '13 at 3:25
  • 2
    In a movie, Sixteen Candles (1984): quote, and then frequently in 'The Simpsons' – Mario Elocio Nov 27 '13 at 5:07

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