A female elephant is called a cow, a male elephant is called a bull. When talking about this animal we use the gender generic term, elephant. The plural of this is elephants.

Now think about cattle. A female is called a cow, the male is called a bull. The gender generic term is cattle. However, this only hold true for the plural form.

Is there a gender generic singular word for cattle?


In English, perhaps surprisingly, there is no single singular word for cattle (in fact, cattle can correctly refer to herds of bison, although this usage is less common).

Cow, bull, heifer, and calf are the singular words for domestic cattle, and if you don't know the sex of the animal, you'd just guess and call it a cow or a bull.



"I see a bovine standing in the field."


There is also an associated adjective.

However from:


There some usage of the word "cow" to refer to:

"2 :a domestic bovine animal regardless of sex or age"

  • great answer, although not exactly what I'm looking for as bovine is not specific to cattle and is a broader term. – C_B Nov 2 '17 at 13:02
  • Note that bovine can also refer to bison. – Jim MacKenzie Nov 2 '17 at 13:03
  • @JimMacKenzie See my edit. – Gary's Student Nov 2 '17 at 13:08

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