Brewers dictionary of phrase and fable gives the following definition:
Moon-calf is an inanimate, shapeless mass
(Pliny; Natural History, x. 64). This abortion was supposed to be
produced by the influence of the moon. The primary meaning of calf
is not the young of a cow, but the issue arising from throwing out,
as a push, a protuberance; hence the calves of the legs.
A false conception, called mola, i.e. moon-calf . . .
a lump of flesh without shape or life.- Holland: Pliny, vii. 16.
The Oxford English Dictionary gives an alternative meaning:
a deformed baby or congenital idiot
In The Tempest, Caliban is called a mooncalf. If anyone knows more about this, please
leave a message in the guestbook
Back to the Main Page
Back to Me