How do you describe the the way cattle buffalo chew ("re-chewing", specifically) their food? There is a specific aspect of their food eating habit which is often related to how people work.


The sought after word is Ruminate - which means:

  1. To think deeply about something (wrt behavior of human beings), or
  2. To chew the cud (wrt a ruminant).
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    @Rathony. Of course that's what it means -- chewing cud -- that's what they do, and it's exactly what was asked for. What edit would you suggest to make the question clearer, considering the OP didn't know the term at the time? – Phil Sweet Jun 8 '16 at 4:40
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    This describes a bovine's digestive system, not how they grind their food. – Mazura Jun 8 '16 at 5:16
  • The grinding of the food is absolutely essential to what it means to be a ruminant. While we have some flat molars, too, there's no way we could eat grass; a human could never train their body to, there's no way to do it. Ruminants are eating an extremely low-nutrition diet, which they have to approach in a very specific, high-effort form of digestion – which includes the teeth and act of chewing; the fact that ruminants hork stuff up and re-chew it only makes their teeth and manner of chewing more important and integral to the uniqueness of the process. So isn't ruminate valid? – david macCary richter Jun 8 '16 at 5:40
  • Furthermore, @displayName specifically said they knew a word for bovine chewing — at this point, Occam's Razor clearly dictates that if displayName were some bovine specialist and had once known a truly exotic word for their chewing in veterinary school, would they realllly have asked for it here? Nah, they'd know it professionally or own the textbook. Match the sophistication of the answer (I'm betting "ruminate" is at least the word they remembered) to the sophistication of the question (nothing harder than, say, "bovine"). – david macCary richter Jun 8 '16 at 5:46
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    All you had to do was add a link, and explain its meaning, and Bingo! It was perfect. We discourage one word answers on EL&U for obvious reasons. – Mari-Lou A Jun 8 '16 at 5:51

Once it's in their mouth (again or not*), they grind it with their molars.

Cow's teeth are different from ours. On the top front, cows have a tough pad of skin instead of teeth. They have 8 incisors on the bottom front and 6 strong molars on the top and bottom of each side to grind their food. Cows have a total of 32 teeth. –moomilk.com

*Ruminants are mammals that are able to acquire nutrients from plant-based food by fermenting it in a specialized stomach prior to digestion, principally through microbial actions. The process typically requires the fermented ingesta (known as cud) to be regurgitated and chewed again. The process of rechewing the cud to further break down plant matter and stimulate digestion is called rumination. The word "ruminant" comes from the Latin ruminare, which means "to chew over again". –Wiki

  • "Grind" is in bold, because the OP originally asked for a way to describe their 'chewing' as opposed to the whole digestive process. – Mazura Jun 8 '16 at 5:50
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    Dude, chewing IS the digestive process, Step #1. That's a non-starter. See my two other comments to get a better idea of why the chewing isn't simple and easy — you're taking for granted that chewing is simple, big deal. Nah, the way and the why and all the science of what's going into it means the chewing – and don't forget Occam's Razor – is really important, and "ruminate" is 100% the answer. – david macCary richter Jun 8 '16 at 5:55
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    Comments like those would make me question the sobriety of their poster. – Mazura Jun 8 '16 at 6:03
  • I'm a teacher, and you've made your point twice and not substantiated it with anything. Go search on it; go rebut the Occam's Razor point; try anything other than the same thing.....which, incidentally is what they say is a definition of addiction (I didn't come up with it). Also, I don't drink. Ad hominem is inappropriate, and comes off as flailing. – david macCary richter Jun 8 '16 at 6:17
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    @davidmacCaryrichter Hi, David. The question has been edited several times. You don't need to use such words as "dude", "Nah", "effing stupidest", "goddamned", "sucks"... – user140086 Jun 8 '16 at 6:22

Ruminate is the word that describes the manner of eating of cows, buffaloes and other animals. The animals that use this method are called ruminants.

Rumination Syndrome — a chronic condition characterized by effortless regurgitation of most meals following consumption.

Taken from Wikipedia.

In the dictionary it's given as the first meaning. The "simple meaning" is to think profoundly.

  • Can you please supply a link to the dictionary you used? – Lawrence Jun 8 '16 at 5:15
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    "Mercyism", wooooww... my brain just fell off its stool trying to make sense of that one! – david macCary richter Jun 8 '16 at 6:29
  • Would you believe me if I told you that I used the same source. I used the wikipedia reference here because I thought it would be clearer. But the dictionary mentioned is Merriam-Webster. – leoOrion Jun 8 '16 at 13:29
  • Hmm... Didnt know that. – leoOrion Jun 8 '16 at 16:45
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    You also must add a citation for each quote in plain text which will remain after all links have been removed (by a faulty API consumer, for example). There are rules and discussion of the rules and worked examples following the rules. – Andrew Leach Jun 8 '16 at 18:14

There's also munch

Eat (something) steadily and often audibly

Source: Oxford Dictionary of English

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    I'd suggest that this would be interpreted to connote something as casual and lighthearted as "snacking"... munching/snacking seem like something one does at leisure. Ruminants ruminate because they don't have a choice but to chew and spit it up and chew and spit it up, because they're eating nutritionally-useless crap like grass. Those animals would die like total sissies if they didn't do everything they can to keep the organisms that grow in their digestive tract alive and healthy, so they always have (the same type of) food in there so the bacteria never go hungry. – david macCary richter Jun 8 '16 at 5:33

Cattle do have a habit of chewing partially digested food. The common name for the mass of food being chewed for a second time is cud.

The phrase "chewing their cud" has gained several metaphoric senses: taking time to ponder and consider before completing some action and engaging in smalltalk are two that I easily recognize.


In the context of how people work, "chewing their cud" could refer either to slacking and lollygagging or to beginning a task again before it is finished.

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