noun (used with a plural verb)

  1. bovine animals, especially domesticated members of the genus Bos.
  2. Bible. such animals together with other domesticated quadrupeds, as horses, swine, etc.
  3. Disparaging. human beings, especially in a large, unruly crowd.

noun (functioning as plural)

  1. bovid mammals of the tribe Bovini (bovines), esp those of the genus Bos
  2. Also called: domestic cattle any domesticated bovine mammals, esp those of the species Bos taurus (domestic ox)

mid-13c., “property,” from Anglo-French catel “property” (Old North French catel, Old French chatel), from Medieval Latin capitale “property, stock,” noun use of neuter of Latin adjective capitalis “principal, chief” (see capital (n.1)). Cf. sense development of fee, pecuniary. Sense originally was of movable property, especially livestock; it began to be limited to “cows and bulls” from late 16c.

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