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[kok-nee] /ˈkɒk ni/
noun, plural cockneys.
(sometimes initial capital letter) a native or inhabitant of the East End district of London, England, traditionally, one born and reared within the sound of Bow bells.
(sometimes initial capital letter) the pronunciation or dialect of cockneys.
  1. a pampered child.
  2. a squeamish, affected, or effeminate person.
(sometimes initial capital letter) of or relating to cockneys or their dialect.
Origin of cockney
1325-75; Middle English cokeney foolish person, literally, cock's egg (i.e., malformed egg), equivalent to coken, genitive plural of cok cock1 + ey, Old English æg; cognate with German Ei, Old Norse egg egg1
Related forms
cockneyish, adjective
cockneyishly, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for cockney
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • You listen to these cockney fellows talking, and then you'll understand me.

    The Foolish Lovers St. John G. Ervine
  • Oddly enough, this last cockney epigram clings to my memory.

    Alarms and Discursions G. K. Chesterton
  • Geoff could almost have fancied there was a cockney twang about it.

    Great Uncle Hoot-Toot

    Mrs. Molesworth
  • There was a cockney in that yarn, too, and a South Sea woman and a schooner.

    Cape Cod Stories Joseph C. Lincoln
  • I am neither a cockney, nor accustomed to listen to impertinence.

    Tony Butler Charles James Lever
  • It was so when Dickens bared the cockney hearth to the sight of all men.

    My Contemporaries In Fiction David Christie Murray
British Dictionary definitions for cockney


(often capital) a native of London, esp of the working class born in the East End, speaking a characteristic dialect of English. Traditionally defined as someone born within the sound of the bells of St Mary-le-Bow church
the urban dialect of London or its East End
(Austral) a young snapper fish
characteristic of cockneys or their dialect of English
Derived Forms
cockneyish, adjective
Word Origin
C14: from cokeney, literally: cock's egg, later applied contemptuously to townsmen, from cokene, genitive plural of cokcock1 + eyegg1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cockney

c.1600, usually said to be from rare Middle English cokenei, cokeney "spoiled child, milksop" (late 14c.), originally cokene-ey "cock's egg" (mid-14c.). Most likely disentangling of the etymology is to start from Old English cocena "cock's egg" -- genitive plural of coc "cock" + æg "egg" -- medieval term for "runt of a clutch," extended derisively c.1520s to "town dweller," gradually narrowing thereafter to residents of a particular neighborhood in the East End of London. Liberman, however, disagrees:

[I]n all likelihood, not the etymon of ME cokeney 'milksop, simpleton; effeminate man; Londoner,' which is rather a reshaping of [Old French] acoquiné 'spoiled' (participle). However, this derivation poses some phonetic problems that have not been resolved.
The accent so called from 1890, but the speech peculiarities were noted from 17c. As an adjective in this sense, from 1630s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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