"Till The Cows Come Home"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: The Elder Loveless, in love with a capricious creature known in the play only as The Lady, is commanded by that character to go on extensive travels. Before he departs from home he makes provision for his brother, the Younger Loveless, who has wasted away his estate in riotous living with a crew of worthless associates, the Captain, the Traveler, the Poet, and the Tobacco-man. The Elder Loveless leaves his steward, the frugal and careful Savil, in charge of his home, but the Elder Loveless is hardly out of sight on his travels before the Younger Loveless has moved in with his companions, a crew of loose women, and a pair of fiddlers. They are determined to spend the three hundred pounds a year at their disposal for nothing but drink, and do no eating at all. When Younger Loveless tells his companions to enjoy themselves, he tells them to kiss till the cow come home; in modern usage "cow" has been changed to "cows." As cows show great reluctance to come home of their own volition, the expression has come to mean the indefinite future, or perhaps never at all. Younger Loveless's complete passage is:

Come, my brave man of war, trace out thy darling;
And you, my learned council, set and turn, boys;
Kiss till the cow come home; kiss close, kiss close, knaves;
My modern poet, thou shalt kiss in couplets.