I have no idea how Americans convey the message that someone is physically very strong in informal everyday English. [In my mother language we say someone has a power of a donkey.]

The only equivalents which I found are as below:

  • He is cock strong.

  • He is strong like bull.

I was wondering if you could tell me which one sounds natural in English. If none makes sense, then could you tell me what a native speaker would say to indicate such a meaning to someone else?

  • Diesel (Dan's brother is diesel since he started lifting weights), and jacked (That weightlifter sure is jacked. Too bad he's on steroids).
    – CatfishFTW
    Jan 14, 2017 at 13:34
  • It's "strong as a bull". Where did you find "cock strong"?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 15, 2017 at 9:40
  • @Mari-LouA one of may American friends used it once. He is southern.
    – A-friend
    Jan 15, 2017 at 10:25
  • It seems it's written as one word, cockstrong, I wouldn't use it in polite company. You are aware of its secondary and more vulgar meaning, aren't you? We're not talking about a "rooster" here. This might explain why you received a downvote, to be "cockstrong" is not about physical strength.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 15, 2017 at 12:05
  • 1
    Hang on, I didn't DV, I suggested a reason why someone might have done so. I asked you where you heard that expression because I had never heard it myself. I never said that vulgarities, slang etc. should not be studied or learned. But I'm saying had you checked in a dictionary you would have realized that it didn't fit your request. That's all.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 15, 2017 at 12:37

2 Answers 2


One common English idiom is:

He is strong as an ox.

As a footnote, don't use your first option. Just don't.

  • 1
    Just to point out to the OP, this expression is common in British English too.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 15, 2017 at 9:38
  • @Mari-LouA the point is taken. ;)
    – A-friend
    Jan 15, 2017 at 10:23

I've heard Hercules used as a noun for a man with exceptional strength ( though I'm not a native speaker).

He is a Hercules.

He has the strength of Hercules.

You can also consider the synonyms given in the site.
Are you specifically looking for idioms related to animals?

  • Yes @Nikki. I'm looking for such an idiom and think J.R. has already answered me. However, would be wide open to get other suggestions too.
    – A-friend
    Jan 14, 2017 at 15:38
  • Well I also considered 'Hercules' only but the site I nave mentioned writes it as 'a Hercules'. So I don't know. Moreover I'm actually wondering if it can be 'the Hercules' as it is a proper noun. I'm a little confused about it so I just wrote what was in the site. If you can help with some clarification then please do.
    – Nikki
    Jan 15, 2017 at 3:27
  • @Jasper Somehow I forgot to mention you :)
    – Nikki
    Jan 15, 2017 at 5:28
  • 2
    "He is a Hercules" is idiomatic. It means that he is a (new) Hercules, with the major features of the original Hercules. You are correct that "the Hercules" would be incorrect in this context, precisely because "Hercules" is a proper noun. "He has the strength of a Hercules" is grammatically correct, but not idiomatic in American English. It means that he has the strength of a (new) Hercules. "He has the strength of Hercules" is correct and idiomatic in American English. It means that he has the strength of the original Hercules. In this last context, leaving out the "a" is shorter, …
    – Jasper
    Jan 15, 2017 at 7:19
  • … and simpler. It is simpler because the reader does not need to think of the extra concept of "a (new) Hercules" that is a copy of the original Hercules. Instead, the reader can just imagine the original Hercules. "He is Hercules" means either his name is "Hercules", or he is the original Hercules. Neither of these meanings is quite what you meant.
    – Jasper
    Jan 15, 2017 at 7:20

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