Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A fool.
  • n. A freak.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A monster; a false conception; a mass of fleshy matter, generated in the uterus.
  • n. A dolt; a stupid fellow.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A monster; a deformed creature.
  • n. A dolt; a stupid fellow.
  • n. A mole or mass of fleshy matter generated in the uterus; a false conception.

Etymologies

Earlier, unformed embryo (from the supposed influence of the moon).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From moon +‎ calf, after a superstition that the moon caused abnormal fetal developement. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • That's what's happened in less far-reaching schemes in the past and that was the objective of these plans,Peter Taylor-GoobyProfessor of social policy, University of Kent• Tim Dowling's article was a great introduction to gallery rage G2, 10 May, but I must add to the list of outrages: standing four inches from the painting; pontificating at 100 decibels; wandering around like a mooncalf and randomly blocking the vision of all and sundry.

    Letters: Artistic vision

  • Of those mooncalf, ill-fitting, ineffably strange examples he lists, his first and most outstanding is The Island of Doctor Moreau.

    The stars of modern SF pick the best science fiction

  • My son, the brutal mooncalf, is still alive, though barely, starving and buried inside some mountain.

    Deeper

  • I infer rather than learn from his narrative that he was captured by the mooncalf herds under the direction of these other Selenites who

    First Men in the Moon

  • From a partially divided carcass of a mooncalf that we presently saw, I am inclined to believe it must have been mooncalf flesh.

    First Men in the Moon

  • The strange and (except for the want of mandibles and palps) most insect-like head of the mooncalf-minders underwent, indeed, the most incredible transformations: here it was broad and low, here high and narrow; here its leathery brow was drawn out into horns and strange features; here it was whiskered and divided, and there with a grotesquely human profile.

    First Men in the Moon

  • They may think we are new animals, a new sort of mooncalf perhaps!

    First Men in the Moon

  • Outside began a terrific bellowing, as if a mooncalf were in trouble.

    First Men in the Moon

  • I had realised that we might work from mooncalf to mooncalf up the cave until we were near enough to charge home.

    First Men in the Moon

  • His thoughts are of mooncalf pastures, and his dialect an accomplished mooncalf technique.

    First Men in the Moon

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