There are a lot of colorful cow sayings in the English language. They are fun to use, but rarely do we know exactly where they came from. At Square Cow Moovers we are on a quest to dig up the origins of all the different cow terminology used today. In this piece we’re taking a look at the term bull hockey.
What Bull Hockey Means
No, it’s not a sport for bovines on ice – though that would be very entertaining to watch. The term bull hockey is used when calling someone’s bluff or calling something nonsense. In other words, if you think a person is telling a tall tale you might respond by saying, “Bull hockey! I know your cow didn’t actually jump over the moon.”
There are other variations of this exclamation, but they aren’t as appropriate for mixed company. You may also notice that it can be either all one word or broken up into two words.
Now that we know how to use ‘bull hockey’ in conversation let’s see if we can’t figure out how this saying came to be.
Where the Term Bull Hockey Originated
The word to hone in on is hockey. Yes, it’s a sport, but it’s also another word for, well, poop. That usage of hockey started at least as far back as the 1930s as noted in one of Vance Randolph’s books. How and why hockey was associated with manure is still a little unclear.
So why bulls? Easy, they tend to produce a lot of dung. Horses have also been used as a substitute for bulls in this saying.
Some have claimed that the term bull hockey originated in the English town of Banbury, which is a rougher part of the country. Its usage in America is dated back to at least 1960s as a way to say other euphemisms without being quite so offensive. Today, the term isn’t very prevalent and is considered very old-timey.
Interestingly enough though, there are now a few hockey teams that have bulls as mascots.