General English


  • verb to extract milk from a cow’s udder. Pressure on the teats makes the milk spurt out. Milking can be done by hand, but is usually done by machines in a milking parlour.



  • The liquid food provided by all mammals for new-born young, consisting of a water solution of sugars and proteins with emulsified fats, various minerals, vitamins and health protective substances. The most important milk in cooking is from the cow, but milk from sheep, goats, buffalo, camels and horses, etc. is used in various cultures, especially for cheese and yoghurt manufacture. Cows’ milk is available with various fat contents and in various forms. The first milk drawn at a particular time from a mammal is usually high in sugar and low in fat and becomes progressively less sugary and more fatty as the glands are emptied, thus allowing some control over quality.


  • noun a white liquid produced by female mammals to feed their young. Cow’s milk and other dairy products are important parts of most diets, especially children’s.
  • noun the breast milk produced by a woman


  • verb to take the milk from an animal

Origin & History of “milk”

Far back into prehistory, milk traces its ancestry to an Indo-European base *melg-, which denoted ‘wiping’ or ‘stroking’. The way of obtaining milk from animals is to pull one’s hand down their teats, and so *melg- came in due course to be used for ‘milk’. It passed into Germanic as *melk-, which formed the basis of the noun *meluks, and this over the centuries has become German milch, Dutch and Danish melk, Swedish mjölk, and English milk. The now virtually obsolete adjective milch ‘giving milk’ (OE) (as in milch cow) goes back to a Germanic derivative of *meluks.

Another derivative of Indo-European *melg- was the Latin verb mulgēre ‘milk’, which has given English emulsion and promulgate.