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The term 'ox' is usually used only for the large animal used to pull carts, ploughs and other heavy loads. I believe such animals are still commonly used in various Asian countries.
An 'ox' may refer to a male or to a female.
The plural is 'oxen'.
Here's an ox. I believe an ox is larger than a bull usually, but it's hard to see size in a picture.
AlpheccaStarsAccording to the dictionary, the difference is that an ox is castrated, and a bull is not. A steer is a young castrated male. When he becomes an adult, he is then called an ox.
Well the things you learn!
My dictionary has these meanings.
1. Any bovine animal, especially a large, usually horned, domesticated ruminant used for draft, for suplying milk, and for eating as meat.
2. A castrated male of a domesticated species of cattle
3. A foolish, clumsy person
Perhaps farmers in N. America speak of 'an ox' with meaning #2, but personally I've never heard that term in a modern farming context here. But I don't often talk to farmers. Maybe they just slaughter the poor steers before they have a chance to grow up and become oxen?
I think that in everyday speech, meaning #1 is the common one, with the focus on 'used for draft'. Isn't that why we say 'He's as strong as an ox'? ( Anyway, we don't mean he's castrated. )
A bull might not make a good draft animal for plowing or pulling carts - if he is distracted by cows, it might upset the cart..
In #1, ox is used for both male and female, but I'd wager that the males used as draft animals are fixed
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