sacred cow

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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

A person, group, or institution considered exempt from questioning or criticism. The term alludes to the Hindu view of cows, which are considered symbolic of God’s generosity to humanity. The British coined the term in India in the late nineteenth century, and it began to be used metaphorically by 1900 or so. Margaret Mitchell used it in Gone With the Wind (1936): “I think of my brother, living among the sacred cows of Charleston, and most reverent towards them.”
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 ?
Why are they called myths or 'sacred cows' and what myths do we have in the perioperative environment?
If trains cannot move at a modest 120km/h because of some sacred cows, just why did the country moot the idea of light rail in the first place?
These are the sacred cows the media would apparently want to slaughter.
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." Are there sacred cows in your office?
(How is that line holding up?) In sections on forbidden food, sacred cows, and holy wars, he discusses aspects such as from community regulation to big business, the limits of law in regulating religious rules, kashrus and the courts, law and politics in a cut-throat business, kosher meat scandals in America and abroad, and oddities and excesses.
The council does have sacred cows and it has a duty to safeguard them.
International leadership consultant Breeden (Duke Corporate Education) draws on current research in psychology and brain science to upend seven 'sacred cows' that have been taken for granted too long in the business world.
Just because someone dares to criticise one of your sacred cows, you start making nasty remarks about her.
And Dr Greek (in Sacred Cows and Golden Geese) says: "The abandonment of animal research is absolutely vital for medicine to advance." And Prof H Bigelaw MD LLD: "There will come a time when the world will look back on vivisection in the name of science as they do now to burning at the stake in the name of religion." For three of my suffering relatives, I hope this and other similar buildings are abandoned.
BORO have rejected offers for 'sacred cows' like David Wheater and will continue to do so in January, vows Steve Gibson.
The NHS may have become one of those sacred cows - like out of control immigration - which party leaders and their entourages dare not speak of.
Roadsteamer is the unholy fusion of '60s folksingers like Peter, Paul & Mary and punk rock defilers of sacred cows like the Ramones.
One wonders where but for his untimely death in 1967, Orion's wayward genius would have led and what other sacred cows of conformity would have been held up to the light of his novel scrutiny, This Oidbury Rep presentation suffers only from the passage of time and a resultant lessening of impact of the play's content.
According to Celtic mythology, Ireland was first gifted with cattle when three sacred cows rose out of the sea and came ashore at Baile Cronin.
Sir - With apologies for the expression, is it time, in Eisteddfod week, to look at two of the most sacred cows in the promotion of the Welsh language?