noun, plural cock·neys.

(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 formscock·ney·ish, adjectivecock·ney·ish·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cockney

Contemporary Examples of cockney

Historical Examples of cockney

  • 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

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
Australian a young snapper fish


characteristic of cockneys or their dialect of English
Derived Formscockneyish, adjective

Word Origin for cockney

C14: from cokeney, literally: cock's egg, later applied contemptuously to townsmen, from cokene, genitive plural of cok cock 1 + ey egg 1
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

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