AskDefine | Define ox

Dictionary Definition



1 an adult castrated bull of the genus Bos; especially Bos taurus
2 any of various wild bovines especially of the genera Bos or closely related Bibos [syn: wild ox] [also: oxen (pl)]

User Contributed Dictionary






  1. A large bovine beast of burden.
  2. A castrated male cattle raised and trained as a draft animal.

Derived terms


castrated male cattle
  • Bosnian: vo, bik
  • Bulgarian: вол
  • Catalan: bou
  • Croatian: vo
  • Czech: vůl
  • Ewe: nyi
  • French: bœuf
  • Galician: boi
  • German: Ochse
  • Hebrew: שור m.
  • Japanese: 去勢雄牛
  • Polish: wół
  • Portuguese: boi
  • Romanian: bou
  • Russian: вол (vol)
  • Sardinian (Campidanese): boi
  • Sardinian (Nugorese): boe
  • Serbian:
    Cyrillic: во , бик , вол
    Roman: vo , bik , vol
  • Slovak: vôl
  • Slovene: vol
  • Spanish: buey

Extensive Definition

In order to become oxen, the cattle must learn to respond appropriately to the teamster's (ox driver's) signals. These signals are given by verbal command, body language, and the use of a goad stick or whip. In preindustrial times, many teamsters were known for their voices and language. In North America, the most common verbal commands are (1) get up (go), (2) whoa (stop), (3) back up, (4) gee (turn to the right) and (5) haw (turn to the left). In the New England tradition, oxen must be painstakingly trained from a young age. Their teamster must make or buy as many as a dozen yokes of different sizes as the animals grow.
In other countries and ox training traditions, adult cattle with little or no prior human conditioning are often yoked and trained as oxen. This is done for economy, as it is easier to let a calf be raised by its mother, and for lack of adequate methods for housing and feeding young calves.
A tradition in south eastern England was to use oxen (often Sussex cattle) as dual-purpose animals: for draft and beef. A plowing team of eight oxen consisted of four pairs aged a year apart. Every year, a pair of steers would be bought at about three years of age, and trained with the older animals. The pair would be kept for four years, then at about seven years old they would be sold to be fattened for beef – thus covering much of the cost of buying the new pair. Use of oxen for plowing survived in some areas of England (such as the South Downs) until the early twentieth century.
Ox trainers favor larger animals for their ability to do more work. Oxen are therefore usually of larger breeds, and are usually males, because castrated males are generally larger – females can also be trained as oxen, but as well as being smaller, they are often more useful for producing calves and milk.


Oxen can pull harder and longer than horses, particularly on obstinate or almost un-movable loads. This is one of the reasons that teams were dragging logs from forests long after horses had taken over most other draught uses in Europe and North America. Though not as fast as horses, they are less prone to injury because they are more sure-footed and do not try to jerk the load.


External Links

ox in Breton: Ejen
ox in Czech: Vůl
ox in Danish: Okse
ox in German: Ochse
ox in Spanish: Buey
ox in Dutch: Os (rundvee)
ox in Polish: Wół

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Brahman, Gibraltar, Indian buffalo, Siberian husky, ass, aurochs, beast of burden, beef, beef cattle, beeves, bison, blockhead, blunderer, blunderhead, boor, bossy, botcher, bovine, bovine animal, buffalo, bull, bullock, bumbler, bungler, calf, camel, carabao, cattle, clod, clodhopper, clodknocker, clot, clown, cow, critter, dairy cattle, dairy cow, dogie, dolt, draft animal, dromedary, elephant, fumbler, gawk, gowk, heart of oak, heifer, hornless cow, horse, husky, iron, kine, klutz, leppy, lion, llama, looby, lout, lubber, malamute, maverick, milch cow, milcher, milk cow, milker, mule, muley cow, muley head, musk-ox, nails, neat, oaf, oak, oxen, pack horse, reindeer, rock, sledge dog, slouch, slubberer, steel, steer, stirk, stot, sumpter, sumpter horse, sumpter mule, wisent, yak, yearling, yokel, zebu
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