cock

Definitions

General English

Agriculture

  • noun a male chicken over 18 months old

Aviation

  • noun a manually controlled valve or tap to control the flow of a liquid

Cars & Driving

  • noun a tap or shut-off valve controlling the flow of water, e.g.

Construction

  • A valve having a hole in a tapered plug. The plug is rotated to provide a passageway for fluid.
  • Any device that controls the flow of liquid or gas through a pipe. See also sill cock and bibcock.

Food

  • The adult uncastrated male of the domestic fowl Gallus gallus. Also used of other males e.g. crabs, fish, wild birds.

Media Studies

  • verb to set a device or mechanism such as a camera shutter release, so that it will work when it is triggered

Military

  • verb to pull back the firing mechanism of a firearm so that it is ready to fire.

Slang

  • noun a term of address (for men). It probably derives from ‘cock-sparrow’, or from the image of a brave fighting-cock. Typically, the word is used in an affectionate, bantering way in expressions such as the dated cockney ‘wotcher cock!’ or ‘(my) old cock’. Cock has been used in this general sense for at least three hundred years.
  • noun the penis. In this sense the word is used all over the English-speaking world. In Britain the usage dates from the 17th century. Its origin is in the image of the male member either as a strutting fighter or as resembling a chicken’s neck or water-valve. (In the USA the word rooster is usually prudishly substituted when referring to the male bird.).

Origin & History of “cock”

The word cock is probably ultimately of onomatopoeic origin, imitative of the male fowl’s call (like the lengthier English cock-a-doodle-doo (16th c.), French coquerico, and German kikeriki). beyond that it is difficult to go with any certainty; it reflects similar words in other languages, such as medieval Latin coccus and Old Norse kokkr, but which if any the English word was borrowed from is not clear. It has been suggested that it goes back to a Germanic base *kuk-, of which a variant was the source of chicken, but typical Old English spellings, such as kok and kokke, suggest that it may have been a foreign borrowing rather than a native Germanic word – perhaps pointing to Germanic coccus. The origin of the interconnected set of senses ‘spout, tap’, ‘hammer of a firearm’, and ‘penis’ is not known; it is possible that it represents an entirely different word, but the fact that German hahn ‘hen’ has the same meanings suggests otherwise.

Of derived words, cocker (19th c.), as in ‘cocker spaniel’, comes from cocking, the sport of shooting woodcock, and cocky (18th c.) is probably based on the notion of the cock as a spirited or swaggering bird, lording it over his hens (there may well be some connection with cock ‘penis’, too, for there is an isolated record of cocky meaning ‘lecherous’ in the 16th century). Cockerel (15th c.) was originally a diminutive form.
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