Quick Reference

A bull is the emblem of St Luke, St Frideswide, and St Thomas Aquinas; the Bull is the zodiacal sign and constellation Taurus.

On the Stock Exchange, a person who buys shares hoping to sell them at a higher price later is known as a bull; the term is recorded from the early 18th century.

In Egyptian mythology, the god Apis was depicted as a bull, symbolizing fertility and strength in war.

The word dates from late Old English (in form bula, recorded in place names), and comes from Old Norse boli.

bull in a china shop a clumsy person in a situation calling for adroit movement; the phrase is recorded from the mid 19th century.

bull market a market in which share prices are rising, encouraging buying (compare bear market at bear 2).

bull-roarer a sacred object of Australian Aboriginal ceremony and ritual, so called because of a fancied resemblance to a child's toy. A bull-roarer consists of a flat oval carved piece of wood, pointed at each end and pierced at one end; a string is threaded through the hole so that the bull-roarer can be swung round, making a booming noise. It is also known as a churinga.

Bull Run a small river in eastern Virginia, scene of two Confederate victories, in 1861 and 1862, during the American Civil War.

like a bull at a gate with the angry vigour of a bull charging a restraining (‘five-barred’) gate; the expression is recorded from the late 19th century.

take the bull by the horns take a firm grasp on a difficult issue; the expression is recorded from the early 18th century.

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