Definition of sacred cow in US English:

sacred cow


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

    • ‘Old assumptions are being questioned, sacred cows slaughtered, new ideas floated.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘You have to slay the sacred cows, publicly, in a high-profile way.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The idea of paying bloggers is a controversial one, as it challenges some of the sacred cows of the journalistic publishing business.’
    • ‘‘Family’ tends to be a sacred cow but personally I disagree.’
    • ‘It's true that the social institution of the Domestic Violence shelter has become a sacred cow, never to be challenged or disputed.’
    • ‘We need constructive criticism of our most sacred cows.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘That's unlikely: Taking on such sacred cows would be political suicide.’
    • ‘When is a traditional practice a sacred cow, however, and when is it an important cornerstone to safe patient care?’
    • ‘Another sacred cow is that the market knows best.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘There's nothing like a little sacred cow bashing to get people to listen!’
    • ‘In that case, his leadership was the sacred cow.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘On another note, the Rocket Prof had better stay anonymous if he's going to take on sacred cows like global warming.’
    tradition, practice, usage, observance, way, convention, procedure, ceremony, ritual, ordinance, form, formality, fashion, mode, manner
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sacred cow

/ˈseɪkrɪd ˌkaʊ//ˈsākrid ˌkou/