a sacred cow

a sacred cow

Someone or something that is considered to have a status that allows it avoid any criticism or questioning. The phrase refers to the veneration of the cow in Hinduism. Unfortunately, that particular program is a sacred cow, and everyone loses their minds if you try to cut its funding. Why is he such a sacred cow around here? He's just a football coach.
See also: cow, sacred

sacred cow

Something that is considered above reproach or immune to negative criticism. (An allusion to cows' sacred status in the Hindu religion.) One thing you have to understand is that freedom of speech is one of the sacred cows of American culture and politics. The book has always been John's sacred cow—if you try to point out any of its flaws, he'll fly off on a tirade against you.
See also: cow, sacred

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

a sacred cow

an idea, custom, or institution held, especially unreasonably, to be above questioning or criticism.
Sacred cow originally referred to the veneration of the cow as a sacred animal in the Hindu religion.
1991 Here's Health The British diet remains a sacred cow.
See also: cow, sacred

a sacred ˈcow

(disapproving) a person, belief or institution that a group of people greatly respect and never criticize: The National Health Service is a political sacred cow. No one likes to criticize it.In the Hindu religion, cows are respected and never harmed.
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
References in periodicals archive ?
If he does not really consider anybody a sacred cow, even a senator's son, he should not stop there.
Kriegel defined a sacred cow as "an outmoded belief, assumption, practice, policy, system or strategy, generally invisible, that inhibits change and prevents responsiveness to new opportunities.
This is 2011, not 1911; no one should try to become a sacred cow, nor will I let anyone become a sacred cow, to subvert the Constitution, or to play tricks on the judiciary and media," The News quoted Nawaz, as saying while addressing a condolence reference organised by the South Asian Free Media Association for slain Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad.
Shortly after Zine called the commission a sacred cow worth corralling, commission President Cynthia Ruiz paid him a visit to reiterate the commission's role in providing an unbiased eye over contracts worth a half-billion dollars.
HUNDREDS of Hindus staged a protest outside RSPCA headquarters yesterday over the animal charity's slaughter of a sacred cow.
THE RSPCA was yesterday accused of secretly killing a sacred cow at one of Britain's most prominent Hindu temples.
One of the latest additions to the "entitlement" package, supposedly a sacred cow beyond the reach of legislators, was put there not long ago by those very congressmen: the new Medicare drug benefit.
It's always fun to watch a sacred cow get barbecued, especially when it's the FBI.
Bastos Marques seems reluctant to sell CSN's stake in CVRD, which has become something of a sacred cow.
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), once a sacred cow, is now under intense scrutiny.
Bartimole says Gateway, in particular, has been a sacred cow to the Plain Dealer.
It's not a sacred cow, but we're doing as much as possible to get the original flavor," she said.