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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for cockney
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He is a cockney by birth, for he was born within the sound of Bow-bells.

  • But the cockney's spirits were blithe as the clouds were black.

    Waring's Peril Charles King
  • Through a world darkened and lost, through a civilisation in its death agony, our little cockney errant went and found his Edna!

    The War in the Air Herbert George Wells
  • The cockney Signora and her works had vanished like a bad dream.

    A Room With A View E. M. Forster
  • The monk was claiming all the estate of this cockney, and claiming it jure divino.

    Voltaire's Romances Franois-Marie Arouet
  • He is a cockney, brought up in the streets of a callous city.

    The Blue Germ Martin Swayne
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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