Definition of sacred cow in English:

sacred cow


  • An idea, custom, or institution held to be above criticism (with reference to the Hindus' respect for the cow as a holy animal)

    ‘the sacred cow of monetarism’
    ‘the British diet remains a sacred cow’
    • ‘Another sacred cow is that the market knows best.’
    • ‘It's true that the social institution of the Domestic Violence shelter has become a sacred cow, never to be challenged or disputed.’
    • ‘You have to slay the sacred cows, publicly, in a high-profile way.’
    • ‘Old assumptions are being questioned, sacred cows slaughtered, new ideas floated.’
    • ‘From the Diefenbaker era to the end of the Mulroney years, federal regional development programmes were a sacred cow in Canada, and successive governments rivalled each other in seeking new forms of organization to carry it out.’
    • ‘We need constructive criticism of our most sacred cows.’
    • ‘In perioperative nursing, we speak of our sacred cows, which are those ideas and practices so deeply entrenched in what we do that they are impediments to change.’
    • ‘When is a traditional practice a sacred cow, however, and when is it an important cornerstone to safe patient care?’
    • ‘Because the NHS is the sacred cow of British politics - with no party willing to admit that they are prepared to retreat from the central commitment to fund a free service, whatever it costs - we have still not got to the heart of the matter.’
    • ‘There's nothing like a little sacred cow bashing to get people to listen!’
    • ‘It has consistently tackled the sacred cows of sex, religion and politics with wit, irony and hard criticism leaving behind carcasses of exposed folly and evil.’
    • ‘The ascent of star presenter over stubborn creator will be dissected in the coming weeks, along with the sacred cows of public subsidy and the education industry.’
    • ‘The idea of paying bloggers is a controversial one, as it challenges some of the sacred cows of the journalistic publishing business.’
    • ‘McGruder is the creative genius behind The Boondocks, a five-year-old comic strip that honors no sacred cows and eviscerates politicians of all stripes.’
    • ‘On another note, the Rocket Prof had better stay anonymous if he's going to take on sacred cows like global warming.’
    • ‘‘Family’ tends to be a sacred cow but personally I disagree.’
    • ‘Selected for screening at the prestigious Raindance Film Festival last year, the film has attracted widespread notoriety for its criticism of one of the sacred cows of development thinking: fair trade.’
    • ‘In that case, his leadership was the sacred cow.’
    • ‘That's unlikely: Taking on such sacred cows would be political suicide.’
    • ‘It will also need a radical rethink of some of our current sacred cows in foreign policy, e.g., the extent to which it is driven by trade.’
    tradition, practice, usage, observance, way, convention, procedure, ceremony, ritual, ordinance, form, formality, fashion, mode, manner
    View synonyms


sacred cow