< /kævz, kɑvz/.

  1. the fleshy part of the back of the human leg below the knee.


  1. the plural of calf 1, calf 2


  1. to give birth to (a calf)
  2. (of a glacier or iceberg) to release (masses of ice) in breaking up

noun plural calves

  1. the young of cattle, esp domestic cattleRelated adjective: vituline
  2. the young of certain other mammals, such as the buffalo, elephant, giraffe, and whale
  3. a large piece of floating ice detached from an iceberg, etc
  4. kill the fatted calf to celebrate lavishly, esp as a welcome
  5. another name for calfskin

noun plural calves

  1. the thick fleshy part of the back of the leg between the ankle and the kneeRelated adjective: sural

fleshy part of the lower leg, early 14c., from Old Norse kalfi, source unknown; possibly from the same Germanic root as calf (n.1).


“young cow,” Old English cealf (Anglian cælf) “young cow,” from West Germanic *kalbam (cf. Middle Dutch calf, Old Norse kalfr, German Kalb, Gothic kalbo), perhaps from PIE *gelb(h)-, from root *gel- “to swell,” hence, “womb, fetus, young of an animal.” Elliptical sense of “leather made from the skin of a calf” is from 1727. Used of icebergs that break off from glaciers from 1818.


Old English cealfian, from cealf “calf” (see calf (n.1)). Of icebergs, 1837. Related: Calved; calving.

n. pl. calves (kăvz)

  1. The fleshy, muscular back part of the human leg between the knee and ankle, formed chiefly by the bellies of the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles.

see kill the fatted calf; puppy (calf) love.

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