(3 syl.). French for the “sorry cow,” a monster that lived only on good women- all skin and bone, because its food was so extremely scarce. The old English romancers invented another monster, which they called Bicorn, as fat as the other was lean; but, luckily, he had for food “good and enduring husbands,” of which there is no lack. (See Bicorn )
O noble wyvës, full of heigh prudence, Let noon humilitie your tongës nayle, Ne lat no clerk have cause or diligence To write of you a story of such mervayle As of Griseldes, pacient and kynde, Lest Chichi-vache you swolwe in hir entraile.
Chaucer: L'Envoye de Chaucer, v. 9064.
The French chiche-face means “thin-face.” Lydgate wrote a poem entitled Bycorne and Chichevache.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894