Main definitions of bull in English

: bull1bull2bull3

bull1

noun

  • 1An uncastrated male bovine animal:

    [as modifier] ‘bull calves’
    • ‘Dog and I went walking again and went by various farm animals - bulls and cows, pigs, sheep and horses.’
    • ‘The Apis bull, a sacred animal to the Egyptians, came to be known as the incarnation of Osiris, god of embalming and cemeteries.’
    • ‘Breeding bulls and calves have so far formed the larger percentage of the farm-to-farm sales, with many producers holding out for the reopening of the marts for the sale of store cattle.’
    • ‘All calves are reared to beef except the Friesian bulls.’
    • ‘A bull calf is typically worth about $100, but a heifer of the same age and breed is usually worth at least three times more.’
    • ‘They saw professional rodeo cowboys ride bucking broncos and bulls, saddling wild horses, calf roping and watched whilst cowgirls barrel raced.’
    • ‘Interestingly, an introgression of bison bulls in wisent herds would be compatible with paleontological records.’
    • ‘Now it is time to divide the herd among the three districts, the total number of reindeer for each area being made up of a combination of bulls, females and calves.’
    • ‘Dairy bull calves reared for beef through a pioneering fattening scheme are achieving gross margin returns of £199 a head for Pembrokeshire farmers.’
    • ‘In a few cases, one in ten or twelve, a heifer born as twin to a bull calf will be normally fertile, but these odds are such that stockbreeders discourage breeding for the trait of mixed-sex twins.’
    • ‘Although not a native animal, the bull has, after five centuries, become fully integrated into the indigenous world.’
    • ‘All matings were between cows and bulls of the same breed except for nine Polled Hereford sires, which were bred to both Horned Hereford and Polled Hereford cows.’
    • ‘These bulls produce heifers/cows that are above average in their milking ability, calving ease and fertility than the average bull in their breed.’
    • ‘Presumably, Hanotte said, trade also brought zebu bulls that farmers interbred with domesticated taurine cows, producing the mixed herds of today.’
    • ‘There were no calving problems except with one set of twins (a bull and heifer calf).’
    • ‘It included 300 horses, 2,000 cattle, 12,000 sheep, 12 bulls and 90 brood mares.’
    • ‘The wild aurochs that roamed the old Eurasian continent was midway in size between a modern bull and an elephant, too big, strong and fierce to tame.’
    • ‘Bulls occasionally fight bulls, but never the milk cow.’
    • ‘We sometimes keep the bull calves and fatten them as young bulls.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, very expensive thoroughbred horses, stud bulls, or whatever animals they may be could well be under threat.’
    1. 1.1 A large male animal, especially a whale or elephant.
      • ‘One shark in particular had a huge semi-circular scar above its gills, possible inflicted by a bull or tiger shark.’
      • ‘Soon after arriving he had Phang Lamphoon mate with Phrai Num Sek, a bull elephant he described as a magnificent animal with a fine, strong and healthy form.’
      • ‘Mrs. Taylor died after the bull elephant went berserk and charged into visitors at an animal park near the popular tourist resort of Pattaya.’
      • ‘After the normal elephant show for the tourists, the Taylor family approached a bull elephant, intending to feed the animal.’
      • ‘Flanked by dunes and beaches, Ano Nuevo Point is the winter home for thousands of northern elephant seals, with bulls staging dramatic fights for breeding rights.’
      • ‘Although bull elephants spend a lot of time alone, they regularly meet up and renew their friendships, one of their favourite meeting places being around water holes.’
      • ‘Tiny was a male bull elephant with one tusk shorter than the other.’
      • ‘One of these is the unusually high level of aggression observed between Addo elephant bulls.’
      • ‘As the saying goes, when elephant bulls fight, it is the grass that suffers.’
      • ‘Crews are leery of the full-grown sperm whale bull (up to sixty feet in length), a rarer sight.’
      • ‘Since bulls are drawn to females in heat, the pheromone could possibly be used to steer rogue elephants away from crops and villages - and destruction.’
      • ‘Groups of adult cows or bachelor bulls are sometimes formed, however, and during the mating season pairs of rhinos may stay together for up to 4 months.’
      • ‘A big bull elephant seal had been lying there sleeping when another cruised up like a submarine, inflating its huge proboscis and blowing bad breath in a deep growl.’
      • ‘While elephants are indisputably social animals the social lives of males and females - bulls and cows - may be contrasted.’
      • ‘Ramona's father was a wild bull elephant whose name and whereabouts are unknown.’
      • ‘Adult male elephants are generally solitary or associate with other bulls in loose associations while females live in families.’
      • ‘But only 800 of India's 20,000 elephants are bulls now.’
    2. 1.2the Bull The zodiacal sign or constellation Taurus.
  • 2British A bullseye:

    ‘aim for the bull!’
    • ‘Many players enjoy the satisfying thud of a third dart in the centre bull for its flashiness alone.’
    • ‘I move the rifle to aim at the sighter bullseye which is just below the record bull on the target and I carefully shoot one round, noting its point of impact.’
    • ‘However, if you can start your draw with your aim slightly above the bull, and keep it on the target, this tends to be the best method, as you don't have to work against gravity, to get the bow higher.’
    • ‘If two darts hit the bullseye or outer bull, you win 2000 times your jackpot bet.’
  • 3Stock Market
    A person who buys shares hoping to sell them at a higher price later.

    Often contrasted with bear
    • ‘For many bulls, this is one ray of hope in the economy's overall dismal picture.’
    • ‘We have had a 13-month bear rally that has just about turned every analyst and investor into a raving bull.’
    • ‘We do not share the hopes or convictions of the bulls.’
    • ‘After a 6% rise in the U.S. markets yesterday, many stock market bulls are daring to raise their heads for the first time in quite a while.’
    • ‘If bull power is already negative, selling short is inappropriate because bears have control over the market bulls.’
    • ‘With no sign of any new exchanges on the horizon, OFEX should easily prosper when market bulls reappear.’
    • ‘No doubt property bulls believe continued rises in house prices will offset any subdued rental yield.’
    • ‘However these stock market bulls also know that shares do not go up in a straight line and that unexpected events can have a profound effect on their company's share performance.’
    • ‘In this situation, bulls are losing their grip on the market, prices are rising only as a result of inertia, and the bears are ready to take control again.’
    • ‘House prices may look high, but if you believe the bulls, shares in the quoted builders look cheap.’
    • ‘Watching share prices crumble was less fun, and being misled by bulls was more costly than being misled by bears.’
    • ‘Turmoil on international stock means stock market bulls and bears have persuasive arguments, but which prognosis do you believe?’
    • ‘In retrospect, the objective was good, but the timing was not good as we were in a year-long bear market rally where the bulls made money and the bears did not.’
    • ‘The stock market began the year catching everyone - bulls and bears - off-balance.’
    • ‘And if anyone was tempted to wager against bond prices, the emboldened bulls were tickled at the opportunity to take their money.’
    • ‘A downward breakout from a trading range will cause pain to bulls who bought and will make them eager to sell during the first market rally so that they can get out even.’
    • ‘If bulls push prices up during the day but cannot achieve a close near the top of the range, stochastic turns down and a sell signal is issued.’
    • ‘The key to capturing those returns: Approach the stock market as a bull but without expecting the wild growth that used to power your portfolio.’
    • ‘Stock market bulls argue that, with dividends expected to grow in the long term, this makes shares good value.’
    • ‘As the markets nervously await tomorrow's opening, the bulls fear the bears have seized control and will force equity markets into a further decline.’

verb

  • 1informal [with object and adverbial of direction] Push or move powerfully or violently:

    ‘he bulled the motor cycle clear of the tunnel’
    • ‘Cora took a majority decision in this rematch of the 2003 draw between the two men, bulling his way inside to outwork his foe.’
    • ‘There was more than one instance where I bulled through only because I believe in completing a game before writing a review for it.’
    • ‘A lead point was magnificently secured by Dwayne Kavanagh five minutes from the end after he bulled through and shot from 50 yards.’
    • ‘He bulled forward like the heavyweight boxer of old, scoring nine times in eight climactic games.’
    • ‘Maxi Lopez, a powerful 20-year-old signed from River Plate in the transfer window, simply bulled his way through Chelsea.’
    • ‘And after Schilling bulled his way through spring training as if those games actually meant something, the method to his business became even clearer.’
    • ‘At the same time, he bludgeoned prison literacy and vocational programs, and bulled ahead with his plan to build a new prison at Delano.’
    • ‘After bulling my way through the crowd, I finally found Noelle, but she wasn't ready to leave.’
    • ‘The true choice then is to bull ahead or else to abort.’
    • ‘Mara was there in a flash, bulling courtiers and servants alike out of the way.’
    • ‘Keep in mind, he was at the helm of the Broad Street Bullies who bulled and bullied their way to Stanley Cup wins in 1974 and '75.’
    • ‘When Rangers bulled onto the field like there was a fire in the dressing room nobody made a sound.’
    • ‘Without hesitation Seal Team Bob bulled into the crowd, tossing dancers to both sides of him.’
    • ‘Seconds remained when Johnny Nevin left his full back berth and bulled his way into a centre field melee.’
    • ‘With a 550 cc engine, it has enough power to bull its way through deep snow and heft a grooming attachment up a steep hill.’
    • ‘All this added up to the unbelievable: Wake won the regular season title in the nation's best conference and bulled its way into the AP top 10.’
    • ‘Any attempt to bull your way through an avenue of approach or into an objective area in tank fashion, will result in failure and possible loss of the vehicle and its personnel.’
    • ‘After driving down the field, Harris bulled his way into the endzone, tying the game at the beginning of the fourth quarter.’
    • ‘I knew the woods well enough that I took the lead, and Jeff bulled along after me through the underbrush, the two of us moving from toy to fallen toy with no other consideration in the world.’
    • ‘A millionaire plantation owner and slave trader, Forrest joined the Confederate army as a private in June 1861 and bulled his way up the ranks to general.’
  • 2be bulling[no object] (of a cow) behave in a manner characteristic of being on heat.

    • ‘The message in this is that after the first three weeks of bulling is over, fewer cows will be bulling and it will be more difficult to confirm standing heat.’
    • ‘The older weanlings are ideal for bulling in late spring when they are about 18 months old.’
    • ‘Herd health: cows should be bulling well, have healthy shining coats and be good on their feet.’
    • ‘Epp et al. collected blood samples from steers at feedlot arrival and at the onset of bulling behavior to assess circulating hormone concentrations.’
    • ‘Cows are coming back bulling as they should and are showing very strong heats, he said.’

Phrases

  • like a bull at a gate

    • Taking action hastily and without thought:

      ‘I try not to analyse anything—I just go in like a bull at a gate’
      • ‘I pushed him away across the car port and he came back like a bull at a gate when I pushed him again.’
      • ‘In fact as soon as he saw London he went at it like a bull at a gate, and the brothels and coffee houses held him spellbound to the extent that he returned to London over and over eventually settling in the city.’
      • ‘He was like a bull at a gate, or a dog without a lead, but being the cub scout I was, the motto was ‘Be prepared… for anything’.’’
      • ‘They should give people warning - not just go round like a bull at a gate and take everything off.’
      • ‘He was up in his room getting another coat and in his usual hurry to do everything like a bull at a gate, he slipped and decided to finish the steps off headfirst.’
  • like a bull in a china shop

    • Behaving recklessly and clumsily in a situation where one is likely to cause damage:

      ‘he was rushing about like a bull in a china shop’
      • ‘We are not going about this like a bull in a china shop.’
      • ‘The new Minister is acting like a bull in a china shop, and prefers to bully everyone into submission.’
      • ‘Smillie, topping the bill for the first time in his 15th pro fight, must have been tempted to go off like a bull in a china shop as another full house roared him forward.’
      • ‘You have to ease your way in, rather than be like a bull in a china shop, which isn't my style anyway.’
      • ‘Whether you are window-shopping at Gucci, barging about Swarovski like a bull in a china shop or knocking over a cosmetics display at Christian Dior, the shop assistants are unfailingly charming.’
      • ‘I haven't seen much of him, but Julius Francis told me he virtually runs out of his corner from the first bell, like a bull in a china shop.’
      • ‘Understandably, Hoggard has wanted to build up gradually after all the hard work he did in South Africa last winter and in his three Championship outings with Yorkshire he has been steady rather than going at it like a bull in a china shop.’
      • ‘I've learned so much from my back-up team and I won't be training like a bull in a china shop.’
      • ‘Adam snapped back, ‘Look, there's no point going at this like a bull in a china shop.’’
      • ‘Never an actor to employ a degree of subtlety, Brian is more like a bull in a china shop.’
  • take the bull by the horns

    • Deal decisively with a difficult or dangerous situation:

      ‘she decided to take the bull by the horns and organize things for herself’
      • ‘One school in Minnesota really took the bull by the horns.’
      • ‘Some forty years ago, the Soviets took the bull by the horns and launched Yuri Gagarin into space.’
      • ‘Hawick finally took the bull by the horns and, in typically rumbustious form, rumbled upfield where they won an attacking lineout right on the Melrose five-metre line.’
      • ‘‘They were the ones who have been prepared to take the bull by the horns and deal with the incompetence of the police with regard to investigation of their cases,’ he said.’
      • ‘However, there is no contemporary equivalent to the reconstruction modernists that took the bull by the horns in Britain in the late 1940s.’
      • ‘If your money problems are pushing you towards the edge of financial disaster, now's the time to take the bull by the horns and deal with them.’
      • ‘All this could have been quite enough flamenco for one week, but taking the bull by the horns, I returned on Tuesday for the Compania Antonio El Pipa in De Tablao.’
      • ‘This deeply divided body, which is averse to making tough decisions, is highly unlikely to take the bull by the horns and be decisive in choosing a method.’
      • ‘He said: ‘I'd always wanted to do sign writing and one day I took the bull by the horns and did it.’’
      • ‘We are taking the bull by the horns and saying we have to move the church to where we see the centre of the Christian worship to be.’
  • within a bull's roar (of)

    • informal [usually with negative]Extremely close or near (to):

      ‘no one has come within a bull's roar of producing a work of such sweep and quality’
      • ‘Even with this significant boost to his chances, he won't be getting within a bull's roar of victory.’
      • ‘Any suggestion that they get within a bull's roar of the levers of power is intolerable.’
      • ‘None of the riders in the breakaway is within a bull's roar of threatening his lead.’
      • ‘You're the only woman who has managed so far to get me within a bull's roar of an altar.’
      • ‘He hasn't gotten within a bull's roar of a budget forecast yet.’
      • ‘The government is offering a figure which is not within a bull's roar of what may be appropriate.’
      • ‘Just about everyone within a bull's roar either works at the property or they know someone who does.’
      • ‘If I were a parent, I wouldn't let any child under 15 within a bull's roar of this movie.’
      • ‘Their striker didn't get within a bull's roar of scoring.’
      • ‘Your client is not within a bull's roar of getting bail.’

Origin

Late Old English bula (recorded in place names), from Old Norse boli. Compare with bullock.

Pronunciation:

bull

/bʊl/

Main definitions of bull in English

: bull1bull2bull3

bull2

noun

  • A papal edict:

    ‘the Pope issued a bull of excommunication’
    • ‘It suggests considerable unawareness of his danger that, when taken, he was wearing an Agnus Dei and in possession of a papal bull.’
    • ‘In mid-1349, Pope Clement VI issued a papal bull denouncing the flagellants as a heretical movement.’
    • ‘In the first years of the 16th century, the screw-press was invented, probably by Bramante for the striking of papal bulls.’
    • ‘A papal bull of 1145 encouraged this kind of regional pilgrimage to Pistoia by urging Tuscan bishops to promote travel to the relic.’
    • ‘Pius V published the bull of excommunication of Elizabeth in 1570 to aid the Rebellion of the Northern Earls, but deliberately without informing Philip first.’
    • ‘After a papal bull of 1558 all such former monks were ordered to return to their monasteries, under threat of losing church benefices.’
    • ‘The word bull is still used in English for a Papal Bull, an edict issued by the Pope.’
    • ‘It was a simple matter then for Pope Julius II to issue a bull to sanction the marriage.’
    • ‘Taking no chances, the pope issued a papal bull automatically excommunicating any printer who might make an alteration in the text.’
    • ‘Papal bulls and indulgences were also identified as tools of this treacherous persuasion.’
    • ‘The Room of the Signatures, named for the signing of the papal bulls, again features some works by Raphael depicting the enlightenment.’
    • ‘The papal bull was taken to Paris and stored for safe keeping.’
    • ‘A papal bull dated June 1520, was issued declaring that Luther was a heretic.’
    • ‘The necessary calculations were carried out by Antonio Lilius and written up into a Papal bull by Christopher Clavius.’
    • ‘In 1452 the Bishop of Rome spoke out and gave his official blessing in a papal bull.’
    • ‘As a result, they repeatedly solicited papal bulls condemning Jansenist works, and persecuted priests who refused formally to accept the condemnations.’
    • ‘The document was a private letter, not a papal bull.’
    • ‘He knew of the fall of Edessa and the call for help, though he probably did not know of the papal bull.’
    • ‘Witches were also put on trial, following a papal bull against witchcraft issued in 1484.’
    • ‘The Pope obliged, issuing on November 1, 1478, a papal bull called Exigit Sincere Devotionis.’

Origin

Middle English: from Old French bulle, from Latin bulla bubble, rounded object (in medieval Latin seal or sealed document).

Pronunciation:

bull

/bʊl/

Main definitions of bull in English

: bull1bull2bull3

bull3

noun

informal
  • [mass noun] Stupid or untrue talk or writing; nonsense:

    ‘much of what he says is sheer bull’
    • ‘But that's pure bull, I'm not outdoorsy, I don't breeze about in fleeces.’
    • ‘To the person who sent this, you took 4 minutes of your time to read this, yet you could not spare the 15 seconds it took for me to Google this and identify it as bull.’
    • ‘Well, my response is that that's a bunch of bull.’
    • ‘He went there, had a little bit of a photo-op, made a little bit of a quip that he thought that he had seen a lot of bull in Washington, but he certainly was seeing a lot more there.’
    • ‘Do you think astrology is totally cool or complete bull?’
    • ‘Which means that the more bull you give, the more they love you.’
    • ‘On a much smaller scale, the writer of the opinion column in my local paper talks bull every week, completely contradicting the factual articles sharing the page, which infuriates me.’
    • ‘It'll get lost in all that paper and bull that gets shovelled around when lawyers and officials get hold of you.’
    • ‘Trust me, these ‘get rich quick’ ads are pure bull, guff and hogwash!’
    • ‘Wait, you feel that what I'm saying here is bull?’
    • ‘Often, we'd sit there and get drunk, dance badly to the student disco and talk a load of bull about football to each other and any other person pretending they were students who happened to be drinking there at the time.’
    • ‘Either way, it makes my point that online polls are bull.’
    • ‘Every time I think of this, I have the same reaction: What bull.’
    • ‘Craig told her, and as much as she wanted to believe that those words were just bull she could tell that she meant it, and even though she didn't want to admit it she was also glad they had kissed.’
    • ‘All that bull about it being the taking part that counts… nonsense.’
    • ‘How much bull can one fit in such a short opening paragraph?’
    • ‘But now we know that was all bull, and so I now believe I was wrong.’
    • ‘‘He sure is a whole lot of bull though,’ one of them remarked as Beva stood in the middle of the ballroom of the plush Marriott Hotel.’
    • ‘Stuck in a rut of family movies Gooding is cast against recent type as sharp New York advertising executive, Darrin Hill, who stretches the salesman's bull into his own life story.’
    • ‘And Carlos and Gerald, among other supposedly intelligent men, are buying that bull.’

Origin

Early 17th century: of unknown origin.

Pronunciation:

bull

/bʊl/