Definition: Milk

From New World Encyclopedia

Etymology 1

From Middle English milk, mylk, melk, mulc, from Old English meolc, meoluc (milk), from Proto-West Germanic *meluk, from Proto-Germanic *meluks, from Proto-Indo-European *h₂melǵ-.


milk (countable and uncountable, plural milks)

  1. A white liquid produced by the mammary glands of female mammals to nourish their young. From certain animals, especially cows, it is also called dairy milk and is a common food for humans as a beverage or used to produce various dairy products such as butter, cheese, and yogurt.
    Skyr is a product made of curdled milk.
  2. A white (or whitish) liquid obtained from a vegetable source such as almonds, coconuts, oats, rice, and/or soy beans.
  3. An individual portion of milk, such as found in a creamer, for tea and coffee.
    I take my tea with two milks and two sugars.
    I take my tea with two milk and two sugar.
  4. The ripe, undischarged spat of an oyster.

Usage notes

Following a 2017 European Union (EU) court ruling, the term milk cannot legally be used to market purely plant-based products (sense 2) in the EU.

Derived terms

  • almond milk
  • breast milk
  • buttermilk
  • chocolate milk
  • coconut milk
  • condensed milk
  • cow's milk
  • evaporated milk
  • flax milk
  • goat's milk
  • ice milk
  • malted milk
  • milk bottle
  • milkcap
  • milk cow
  • milk crate
  • milk fat
  • milkman
  • milkshake
  • milk tea
  • milkweed
  • milkwoman
  • milky
  • Milky Way
  • powdered milk
  • rice milk
  • skim milk
  • soy milk
  • whole milk

Etymology 2

From Middle English milken, from Old English melcan, from Proto-Germanic *melkaną, ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *h₂melǵ-, the same root as the noun. Compare Dutch and German melken, Danish malke, Norwegian mjølke, also Latin mulgeō (I milk), Ancient Greek ἀμέλγω or amélgō (I milk), Albanian mjel (to milk), Russian молоко́ or molokó, Lithuanian mélžti, Tocharian A mālk-.


milk (third-person singular simple present milks, present participle milking, simple past and past participle milked)

  1. To express milk from (a mammal, especially a cow).
    The farmer milked his cows.
  2. To draw (milk) from the breasts or udder.
    They milked wholesome milk from healthy cows.
  3. To express a liquid from a creature.
    The Australian government has a team that regularly milks various snakes for venom to use for creating serums and antivenoms.
  4. (figurative) To make excessive use of (a particular point in speech or writing, a source of funds, etc.); to exploit; to take advantage of (something).
    When the audience began laughing, the comedian milked the joke for more laughs.

Derived terms

  • milking machine


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