Cow with one leg, lop-sided cow, uneven cow — whatever you want to call it — walking around on three legs is an odd sight. What do you call a cow with one leg?
If you’re talking about a real live cow with only one front leg, it’s called a “staggy” (with an “e”) or a “lop-sided” cow. If it has only one hind leg, it’s called a “hind-legged.” But if both front legs are gone and the animal is walking around on its hind legs alone, we say it has been “gavelled.”
The word “gavelled” refers to being gadded about or led astray by foolishness. It comes from the Old English verb gafelian which means “to deceive or mislead.” So when you see a gavelled cow walking around on its hind legs alone, it means that someone has led it astray into believing that standing up is better than lying down!
Last modified: August 3, 2022