a sacred cow

sacred cow

Fig. something that is regarded by some people with such respect and veneration that they do not like it being criticized by anyone in any way. (From the fact that the cow is regarded as sacred in India and is not eaten or mistreated.) A university education is a sacred cow in the Smith family. Fred is regarded as a failure because he quit school at 16. Don't talk about eating meat to Pam. Vegetarianism is one of her sacred cows.
See also: cow, sacred

sacred cow

A person or thing immune to criticism or questioning, as in The rules governing the press conference have become a sacred cow in this administration. This term alludes to the honored status of cows in Hinduism, where they are a symbol of God's generosity to humankind. It has been used figuratively since about 1900.
See also: cow, sacred

a sacred cow

If you describe a belief, opinion, or tradition as a sacred cow, you mean that people are not willing to criticize or question it or to do anything to change it. That would have meant leaving the Exchange Rate Mechanism — and the ERM is the sacred cow of British politics. The trade unions were, perhaps, the greatest sacred cow in British politics during the 1960s and early 1970s. Note: This is often used in a disapproving way. Note: In the Hindu religion, cows are regarded as sacred.
See also: cow, sacred

sacred cow

Above criticism. Hindus regard bovines as revered creatures, not to be mistreated in any way. The English-speaking world began to apply this religious practice in the mid-19th century to any person or project (often political in nature) that, like Caesar's wife, should not be faulted.
See also: cow, sacred