Green’s Dictionary of Slang

calf n.1

also veal
[dial.; note the UK comedian Steve Coogan’s 1990s character Paul Calf, a loutish, stupid, hedonistic Mancunian]

a fool, a simpleton.

[UK]Udall Ralph Roister Doister III iii: Ye are such a calf, such an ass, such a block.
[UK]Jacke Juggler Diii: You shall see how woll handle the calphe If he thoroughlye angered bee.
[UK]Misogonus in Farmer (1906) III i: Hark, how like a calf! there’s one speaks.
[UK]Shakespeare Hamlet III ii: To kill so Capitall a Calfe.
[UK]Middleton Chaste Maid in Cheapside I ii: Allwit True, and if she bear a male child, there’s the man in the moon, sir. Sir Walter ’Tis but the boy in the moon yet, goodman calf.
[UK]M. Drayton Nymphidia in Noyes Anthol. of Fairy Poetry (1909) 9: Some silly doting brainless Calfe, / That vnderstands things by the halfe .
[UK]J. Taylor Crabtree Lectures 93: You great Calfe your Sheepes eyes shall vex to see’t.
[UK]T. Killigrew Parson’s Wedding (1664) I iii: Who, Mr Jeoffry? Hobinol the second; by this life, ’tis a very Veal, and he licks his Nose like one of them.
[UK]Humours of a Coffee-House 19 Dec. 76: Tax me with having a Hand in such a Barbarous Business, you Calf-lik’d Coxcomb, I’ll beat you into Jelly.
[UK]Northampton Mercury 21 Apr. 4/1: Those damn silly bunglers, like dull English calves [...] work only by halves.
[UK]‘Peter Pindar’ Tristia (1806) 49: And now, behold a bellowing calf knocks in, He thunders, and no porter dares oppose.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Sept. XVIII 321/1: ‘These are two short for the ton (said he) they should cover the calf completely.’ – ‘Then (said the bootmaker) they must be about five foot ten inches.’.
[UK]W. Combe Doctor Syntax, Picturesque (1868) 55/2: The Parson smil’d and bid the calf / Go home and shave the other half.
[UK] ‘The Irishman in England’ Universal Songster I 32/2: I wasn’t a calf to be cowed by a bull.
[UK] ‘Cat’s-Meat Nell’ Cockchafer 5: I look’d for I felt so stupid, do you see, / To know vhere I vas, in wain. / To a butcher says I, ‘I’m in Queer-street.’ Says he, / ‘Why, you calf, this here is Cow-lane’.
[US]T. Haliburton Letter-bag of the Great Western (1873) 47: She is constantly casting sheep’s-eyes at me, but I ain’t such a calf as she takes me to be, so don’t be jealous, Mary.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 1 May 1/6: A dandy once went to a doctor to be bled. [...] whereupon the dandy, after a little of his fear had subsided, raised up his head, and exclaimed, ‘Doctor, I think you are a great butcher.’ ‘Aye,’ said the doctor, ‘and I have just been sticking a great calf’.
[US]F.M. Whitcher Widow Bedott Papers (1883) 29: What an everlastin’ old calf you must be to s’pose she’d look at you.
[UK]Wild Boys of London I 254/1: Mat, you great calf, what are you shaking about?
H. Aidé Morals and Mysteries 55: She had a girlish fancy for the ‘good-looking young calf,’ who had so signally disgraced himself last night.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 13 June 11/2: And as to his being a better man morally, perhaps he is not much worse, for in all other respects but money, he is but a motherless calf of a man, and no more responsible for his actions than a village idiot.
[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 15 Feb. 1/3: ‘My love,’ asked Gubbins [...] ‘why do you put the hair of another woman on your head?’ ‘The same reason, I suppose [...] that you put the skin of another calf on those hands of yours’.
[UK]Sporting Times 7 Feb. 3/3: He bores me awfully — great, stupid calf.
[US]Ade ‘The Fable of Another Brave Effort’ in True Bills 49: Once there was a beautiful Specimen of Veal named Oliver.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 16 July 1/1: The flossie was fined five-bob for allowing a cow to stray [...] she’s dropped on to many a dollar for allowing a calf to stray.
[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘On the Uptake’ Sporting Times 24 Jan. 1/3: He stood by looking like a calf.

In derivatives

In compounds

calf-lolly (n.) [dial. lolly, a fool, an idler]

an idle simpleton.

[UK]Urquhart (trans.) Gargantua and Pantagruel (1927) I Bk I 103: The bunsellers or cake-makers [...] did injure them most outrageously, calling them [...] jobbernol goosecaps, foolish loggerheads, flutch calf-lollies, grouthead gnat-snappers, lob-dotterels, gaping changelings, codshead loobies, woodcock slangams, ninnie-hammer fly-catchers, noddiepeak simpletons, turdy-gut, shitten shepherds, and other such like defamatory epithets.
[UK]Motteux (trans.) Gargantua and Pantagruel (1927) II Bk IV 484: But now I find I was a gull, a wittol, a woodcock, a mere ninny, a dolt-head, a noddy, a changeling, a calf-lolly, a doddipoll.
[UK]E.V. Kenealy Goethe: a New Pantomime 192: Cozening fox, calf-lolly, milksop!
calf’s head (n.)

1. (also calves foot head) a fool.

[UK]Skelton Speke Parott line 484: So many thevys hangyd [...] So braynles calvys hedes, so many shepis taylys.
[UK]Shakespeare Much Ado About Nothing V i: I’faith, I thank him; he hath bid me to a calf’s-head and a capon [...] Shall I not find a woodcock too?
[UK]Davies of Hereford Scourge of Folly 16: One call’d Calistus Caulves-head, in a fume.
[UK]J. Taylor ‘Wit and Mirth’ in Works (1869) II 184: Thou spoylest my hat with putting a Calues head into it.
[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy IV 42: My Lord he name’d a Calves-head, at which she made a pish.
[UK] ‘The Butcher’ in Farmer Merry Songs and Ballads (1897) II 216: Take care that her mag with raw meat is well fed, / Lest the horns of an ox should adorn your calve’s head.
[UK]C. Dibdin ‘The Waggoner’ Collection of Songs II 184: How many ways in London town / They dresses a calf’s head.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Oct. XIX 50/2: I’d have cleaved his calf’s head, and given him such a chop in the kidnies.
‘The pig-Faced Lady’ in Vocal Mag. 1 June 194: Yet, d’ye mind, I was not at a boarding schoo, bred, / And it an’t every lady that likes a calf’s head.
[UK]J.H. Lewis Lectures on Art of Writing (1840) 60: A old fashion hat – Quaker cut – with a brim broad enough to hide a ‘calf’s head’.
[UK]W.T. Moncrieff Tom and Jerry II ii: No, I suppose I von’t stand a drop of nothing! young Calf’s-head?
[UK]H.M. Milner Turpin’s Ride to York II vi: He, he – I were thinking that my bacon face and thy calf’s head would make a capital dish.
A.A. Park Book of Jests 11: ‘What have you got to say old Bacon-face?’ [...] Why, answered the farmer, ‘I am thinking my bacon-face and your calf’s-head would make a very good dish!’.
[US]M.G. Hayden ‘Terms Of Disparagement’ in DN IV:iii 205: calf’s head, a stupid fellow. ‘He doesn’t act as though he were anything but a calf’s head’.
[UK]J. Buchan Greenmantle (1930) 186: Botha is a cleverish man and has beaten you calves’-heads of rebels. Can you deny it?
[UK]Breton & Bevir Adventures of Mrs. May 41: Why you’d go down among the ’ole of ’Oxton as a crackpot, and a fellow with a calves foot head.

2. a white-faced man with a large head.

[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. 21: Calf’s head — a tallow-faced fellow and meaty.
[UK]Barrère & Leland Dict. of Sl., Jargon and Cant I 219/2: Calf’s head (popular), a white-faced man with a large head.
calf-sticking (n.) [stick v. (2a)]

(UK Und.) pretending that perfectly normal goods have supposedly been stolen; a greater price can thus be asked, since some customers like the idea of obtaining stolen goods.

[UK]Daily Gaz. for Middlesborough 25 June 3/3: He took to ‘calf-sticking’ [...] the putting off of worthless rubbish, on the pretence that it was smuggled goods, on any foolish or unsuspecting person [...] Tom’s ingenuity in the ‘calf-sticking’ line of business had enabled him to dispose of four-and-twenty boxes of cigars at 10s 6d.

In phrases

have a calf (v.)

(US) to lose control, to have an emotional fit.

[US]UTSQ 29 Nov. n.p.: [Get angry] ...have a calf, have a hissy [HDAS].

SE in slang uses

In compounds

calf-slobber (n.) [dial. calf-slobber, the saliva that forms around a calf’s mouth]

1. (US) a meringue topping for pastry.

[US]C. Samolar ‘Argot of the Vagabond’ in AS II:9 390: Meringue, on pastry, is called calf-slobber.
[US]Mencken Amer. Lang. (4th edn) 583: Pastry is toppings and the meringue on a pie is calf-slobber.
[US]Great Bend Trib. (KS) 2 July 3/1: You’d never guess the names of many dishes [...] meringue on pies (calf slobber).
[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS.

2. foam on a glass of beer.

‘Cowboy Talk’ at www.bunkhouse.com [Internet] Calf-slobber. 1. Foam on a head of beer. ‘I like to pour it into the glass real fast to get a good head of calf-slobber on it.’.
calf week (n.) (also bull-week, cow-week) [the cattle names imply stolid labouring]

the three weeks immediately before a holiday period, usu. Christmas, characterized in shops and factories by an increasingly heavy workload and concomitantly higher pay; note cite 1906 for specific naming.

[UK]Echo 4 Dec. n.p.: Calf, cow and bull week. We find a good illustration of the beneficial influence of the Factory Acts in the reports of the Government Inspectors just issued. The district inspector expresses the hope that the measures which he took against some offenders in bull week last year will extinguish for good and all this absurd and illogical custom [F&H].
[UK]Sheffield Dly Teleg. 27 Jan. 6/7: About 30 females had come to him on the first day in ‘bull week’ and asked if overtime was to be worked.
[UK]Sheffield Indep. 26 Jan. 3/7: Mr Fisher: It was what is called ‘Bull Week’ was it not?
[UK]Sheffield Dly Teleg. 16 Jan. 8/3: ‘Bull Week’ in Sheffield. People were anxious to earn as much money as they could for the Christmas holidays.
[UK]Sheffield Eve. Teleg. 22 Dec. 5/3: The week before Christmas is bull week, the week before that cow week and the week prior to that calf week.
[UK]Yorks. Post 17 Dec. 3/8: These are strenuous days at the pits, for it is the miners’ ‘bull week’, on the product of which the ascale of Christmas festivities will turn.
[UK]Yorks. Post 17 Dec. 2/4: The spurt in output just before and during Bull Week — as the week before Christmas is called in the pits [...] is due to the wish to have something extra to spend.
[UK]Dover Exp. 4 Aug. 9/5: Last week — ‘bull’ week before the annual holidays —Kent miners produced 42,794 tons of coal.