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"How now brown cow!"

What does "how now" mean? Is it idiomatic?
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A nonsense phrase with no real meaning as such, although it also sometimes used as a jovial greeting - it is also a phrase used in elocution training. "How now" = [Hello].
Hello Anon,

"How now!" is elliptical for "How (say you) now!".

It's obsolete, except in humorously archaic usage.

MrP
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MrPedanticHello Anon,

"How now!" is elliptical for "How (say you) now!".

It's obsolete, except in humorously archaic usage.

MrP

Thanks MrP.

What do you mean elliptical?
Anonymous
MrPedantic
Hello Anon,

"How now!" is elliptical for "How (say you) now!".

It's obsolete, except in humorously archaic usage.

MrPWhat do you mean elliptical?

How now!

How (say you) now!

The word 'elliptical' refers to the fact that some words have been left out.

Therefore, it could be said that it is the shortened form. In this case, 'say you' has been left out.

You could almost say that the modern equivalent is What's up, brown cow?Emotion: smile

CJ
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I think it is important to point out that it is not just a greeting, but can be used in a context similar to today's
"What say you to that?" or "What do you say [in response] to that?"

For instance:

"The dog is a girl."

"It isn't! Look, it has all the genitalia indicating that it is, in fact, male! How now?"

(It should also go without saying that you still here this in England uncommonly, but not rarely, and to the chap that said that this is only ever used in comically archaic context, or what have you- that hurts my feelings. I think it is only archaic because young people have lost their sense of propriety. How now?)