E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
One of the twelve signs of the Zodiac (April 20 to May 21). The time for ploughing, which in Egypt was performed by oxen or bulls.
At last from Aries rolls the bounteous sun,
And the bright Bull receives him.
Thomson: Spring, 26, 27.
Bull. A blunder, or inadvertent contradiction of terms, for which the Irish are proverbial. The British Apollo, 1740, says the term is derived from one Obadiah Bull, an Irish lawyer of London, in the reign of Henry VII., whose blundering in this way was notorious.
Bull is a five-shilling piece. Half a bull is half-a-crown. From bulla, a great leaden seal. Hood, in one of his comic sketches, speaks of a crier who, being apprehended, swallowed three hogs (shillings) and a bull.
The popes bull. So called from the bulla or capsule of the seal appended to the document. Subsequently the seal was called the bulla, and then the document itself.
The edict of the Emperor Charles IV. (1356) had a golden bulla, and was therefore called the golden bull. (See GOLDEN BULL.)