Definition of milk in US English:



  • 1An opaque white fluid rich in fat and protein, secreted by female mammals for the nourishment of their young.

    ‘a healthy mother will produce enough milk for her baby’
    • ‘As in all mammals, the female provides milk for her offspring.’
    • ‘A female brown bear's milk is very rich in fat and calories, so the cub grows quickly.’
    • ‘The mare simply wasn't producing enough milk to feed the both of them.’
    • ‘The calf's first year of food is almost exclusively its mother's rich milk, which can be reached easily.’
    • ‘These glandular tissues contain cells that make and secrete milk.’
    • ‘These proteins are produced in the milk of many mammals to protect their young from infection until their immune systems develop.’
    • ‘A cow has to be pregnant before it produces milk.’
    • ‘He kept insisting that I would have plenty of milk there to feed my recently born twins.’
    • ‘It is still young enough to be sucking milk from its mother.’
    • ‘During pregnancy and after delivery, these ducts produce milk to feed the baby.’
    • ‘She is said to be smiling again and taking milk from her mother.’
    • ‘The lobes are made up of milk-producing glands, called lobules, which secrete milk into a system of ducts.’
    • ‘The ideal is for a lamb to have milk from its mother as soon as possible after birth.’
    • ‘Mammals produce milk for their young until they are weaned.’
    • ‘The newborn infant is happy when it is cuddled in its mother's arms and sucks milk from her breast.’
    • ‘Use of donor milk for preterm infants has declined over the past 20 years.’
    • ‘The milk is very different in composition from the milk of land mammals.’
    • ‘Mothers' milk is a living fluid that can never be imitated in any laboratory.’
    • ‘Rabbit mothers only feed their babies twice a day and rabbit milk is very rich.’
    • ‘Breastfeeding mothers need to drink extra to make enough milk for their babies.’
    1. 1.1 The milk from cows (or goats or sheep) as consumed by humans.
      ‘a glass of milk’
      • ‘One of my childhood babysitters used to tell me that I'd turn into chocolate milk if I drank too much of it.’
      • ‘As a boy he would not drink milk or eat eggs, though he could cook with both.’
      • ‘He, too, picked up his glass of milk and started to drink it.’
      • ‘They say you don't get enough calcium if you don't drink milk.’
      • ‘It's therefore advisable to boil untreated milk before drinking it.’
      • ‘Add the cream cheese and milk to the spinach mixture.’
      • ‘Keep in mind also that I use soy milk only in my coffee: on those rare occasions when I drink a glass of milk or eat a bowl of cereal, it's dairy skim.’
      • ‘I shrugged and went down to the cafeteria, ordering a bagel, cream cheese and chocolate milk instead of the nauseating vegetarian soup.’
      • ‘We have more than enough to make feta and soft goat cheeses, with milk left over for drinking and cooking.’
      • ‘A third of children drinking plain milk suffered from diarrhoea, compared to none of those supplemented with the probiotic.’
      • ‘I drank a glass of milk before making a cheese, peanut butter and lettuce sandwich.’
      • ‘Look for low-fat, fat-free or reduced-fat milk, buttermilk, cheeses, yogurt and sour cream.’
      • ‘Lisa was sitting at the kitchen table, quietly drinking a glass of milk.’
      • ‘Paul sat down on the couch and drank his glass of milk.’
      • ‘Another important source of nutrition is milk in various forms such as fresh or sour milk, sour cream, buttermilk, whey, cheese, and butter.’
      • ‘He sat in the blue midnight and drank a glass of milk.’
      • ‘Add the heavy cream and milk, stirring continuously until smooth and velvety in consistency.’
      • ‘He sat there for the longest time, just drinking his glass of milk.’
      • ‘Ask what their favourite sandwich is and give them a small carton of milk or a yogurt drink as a treat.’
      • ‘Lower-fat versions of milk. cottage cheese, and yogurt are valuable sources of proteins and fit easily into a daily diet.’
      cow juice
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 The white juice of certain plants.
      ‘coconut milk’
      • ‘There is the first extract or the thick creamy milk from the scraped coconut.’
    3. 1.3 A creamy-textured liquid with a particular ingredient or use.
      ‘cleansing milk’
      • ‘Start by cleansing the skin with the appropriate milk and lotion and proceed with adequate exfoliation according to skin type.’
      • ‘Hurrah for easy-to-use home colouring kits bursting with gentle ingredients like apricot milk, jojoba and wheat-germ oil.’


[with object]
  • 1Draw milk from (a cow or other animal), either by hand or mechanically.

    • ‘Children can touch the animals and even have a go at milking the goats.’
    • ‘Cows were milked three times daily and housed in an open dry lot with shade in the central area of the pen and over the feedbunk.’
    • ‘Almost half of the increased output would come from milk which is now retained on dairy farms due to quota restrictions and through farmers milking their cows longer each year.’
    • ‘We'd fish and hunt year-round for meat; we raised chickens, sheep, pigs and milked a few cows.’
    • ‘Every day for the past 36 years, Vic and Rosemary Mier got up at 5 a.m. to milk cows.’
    • ‘She milked the cows, reared poultry, made the butter and undertook a host of other chores.’
    • ‘They fell trees with handsaws, heat their homes with wood, cut the hay with scythes and milk the cows, weed the fields and harvest the crops by hand.’
    • ‘In 1949, the year after I started high school and while I was still milking my parents' cows, the federal price-support program was enacted.’
    • ‘Unlike on most dairy farms, all the cows calve at the same time of year, and the cows are not milked in wintertime.’
    • ‘Wandering into a shed one evening, he found a couple dozen goats being milked by a mechanism run by a pump.’
    • ‘The 80-acre farm now operates around the clock, and the cows are milked three times a day, filling two semitrailer tankers full of milk.’
    • ‘Learning how to milk cows and shear sheep was crucial.’
    • ‘He grew up on the couple's farm in Bugthorpe where he loved to help out feeding the animals and milking the cows.’
    • ‘Nisley milks his cows in a long parlor lined with tie stalls.’
    • ‘After feeding all the animals, milking the cows and collecting the eggs, Freya walked across fields and through forest, trying to straighten her head.’
    • ‘‘Cows were milked by hand and milk was separated from cream with a hand-cranked separator,’ she says.’
    • ‘Cows are milked three times a day, pushed to their productive limits with hormones and super-charged feed for the sole purpose of milk output.’
    • ‘We feel that by, for example, milking our own cows and processing our milk, we can offer our customers the highest quality dairy products at the lowest possible price.’
    • ‘The men fed the cattle and milked the cows and tied up the dog.’
    • ‘Cows were milked three times daily, and milk weights were recorded at each milking.’
    1. 1.1no object (of an animal, especially a cow) produce or yield milk.
      ‘the breed does seem to milk better in harder conditions’
      • ‘Cows won't milk as well and calves can't easily pick the good grass out of the old growth.’
      • ‘Healthier cows milking at a lower rate will stay in the herd longer, he thinks.’
      • ‘Today, some swine producers have totally abandoned the procedure or resect needle teeth only when sows are milking poorly or if exudative epidermitis is present in the herd.’
    2. 1.2 Extract sap, venom, or other substances from.
      • ‘People are bitten by exotic snakes while handling or feeding them, cleaning out their cages, milking them of their venoms, or attempting to steal them.’
      • ‘He's now milking tarantulas for their venom, and has recently been granted a licence to export that venom.’
      • ‘Chief among those experts is Lyn Abra, who milked funnel-webs for their venom for three decades, first for Sutherland's research and then for commercial antivenin production.’
      draw off, siphon, bleed, pump off, tap, drain, extract, withdraw
      View synonyms
  • 2Exploit or defraud (someone), typically by taking regular small amounts of money over a period of time.

    with complement ‘he had milked his grandmother dry of all her money’
    • ‘What have you been doing all of these years, milking him for money?’
    • ‘When their dreams are dashed, they hook up and turn into con artists, coming up with grander and grander schemes to milk some poor man of his hard-earned money.’
    • ‘It's just another press release, designed to enhance the public image and milk it for more money.’
    • ‘Maybe I should have thought of this before I milked my parents for money.’
    • ‘Money has clearly been milked out of agencies and into the Olympics without regard to consequences.’
    exploit, take advantage of, cash in on, impose on, bleed, suck dry, fleece, squeeze, wring, blackmail
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 Get all possible advantage from (a situation)
      ‘the newspapers were milking the story for every possible drop of drama’
      • ‘Some, perhaps sensing that the window of opportunity is closing, are doing their best to milk the situation for all it is worth.’
      • ‘Like Scorsese, he has perhaps milked his childhood dry.’
      • ‘I hope that operatives are preparing to milk this situation.’
      • ‘I'd tell you his name, but I'm not done milking my industry source dry yet.’
      • ‘I thought I'd milked the situation as far as I dared.’
    2. 2.2 Elicit a favorable reaction from (an audience) and prolong it for as long as possible.
      ‘he milked the crowd for every last drop of applause’
      • ‘Wooley constantly runs from one end of the stage to the other, madly working the washboards, milking the audience's applause.’
      • ‘I would say that, you know, a lot of comedians milk an audience.’
      • ‘Never missing a comic beat, their charisma worked every time and they knew how to milk the audience dry.’
      extract, elicit, force, coerce, exact, extort, wrest, wrench, screw, squeeze
      View synonyms


  • in milk

    • (of an animal, especially a cow) producing milk.

      • ‘I will refer to goats in milk and to milking goats to reflect the distinction.’
      • ‘The champion Friesian heifer in milk saw an honour awarded to Aidan Foody from Ardagh.’
      • ‘The data were adjusted for previous lactation milk yield and days in milk at last test day.’
  • it's no use crying over spilt (or spilled) milk

    • proverb There is no point in regretting something which has already happened and cannot be changed or reversed.

      • ‘I guess it's no use crying over spilt milk, but I do remember feeling a sense of disappointment as these features were dropped from Vista.’
      • ‘‘It's obviously very disappointing when you lose your captain and inspiration but it's no use crying over spilt milk,’ said Wigan coach Dennis Betts.’
  • milk and honey

    • Prosperity and abundance.

      • ‘Millions of Poles have already made America their home over the last century and a quarter, their stories of the land of milk and honey beyond the ocean whetting the appetite of millions more who stayed behind.’
      • ‘They found only metaphorical milk and honey there.’
      • ‘Remember when New Zealand was the land of milk and honey?’
      • ‘Zambia can be turned into a land of plenty, flowing with milk and honey.’
      • ‘This is a permanent message to foreigners that Belgium is a land of milk and honey, where they have rights but no duties.’
      • ‘In the land of milk and honey, debt is wealth, war means peace and a dollar sailing towards hell in the proverbial hand basket is a good thing.’
      • ‘The expectation was that the change would lead to a land that was going to flow with milk and honey.’
      • ‘‘Our new approach,’ he said on Friday, ‘will be to present our independence not as a land of milk and honey but as a land of opportunity.’’
      • ‘I always heard that in the United Kingdom and the United States, you do not find any racism and what they also show you daily on television gives one the impression that these are the countries of milk and honey.’
      • ‘Many people in Namibia see America as a land that still flows with milk and honey, a place where they can find jobs, feed their children, and be free from the legacy of apartheid and colonialism.’
      wealth, success, profitability, affluence, riches, opulence, the good life, fortune, good fortune, ease, plenty, welfare, comfort, security, well-being
      View synonyms
  • milk of human kindness

    • Care and compassion for others.

      • ‘This is a good one, perhaps because it provides a different slant on the milk of human kindness.’
      • ‘If there is a drop of the milk of human kindness in his veins it is extraordinarily well diluted.’
      • ‘If we can't figure this problem out, and use compassion and the milk of human kindness, so that it is a win-win situation for everyone, then it doesn't say much for the kind of people that we are.’
      • ‘But the rub of this debate is how, when it comes to the milk of human kindness, we want to see the glass as half empty and not half full.’
      • ‘Well, Howie, it's just the simple milk of human kindness.’
      • ‘But there is an unforgiving quality about them and not much of the milk of human kindness.’
      • ‘Yet despite its deeply inhospitable climate, the people of Wisconsin are full of the milk of human kindness.’
      • ‘You know, when you hear something like this, you are just so stricken by the milk of human kindness that you are forced to skip around in circles waving silken ribbons while braiding dandelions through your hair.’
      • ‘If you put out a call for the milk of human kindness, someone usually turned up with an extra pint.’
      • ‘He's a lion on the battlefield, but you can't imagine him having visions, or much of the milk of human kindness.’


Old English milc, milcian, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch melk and German Milch, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin mulgere and Greek amelgein ‘to milk’.