cork

Definitions

General English

Agriculture

  • noun a protective outer layer that forms part of the bark in woody plants, taking many years to regrow once stripped

Sports

  • noun a heavy bruise to the quadriceps

Travel

  • noun a piece of soft bark from a cork oak tree, used to close a bottle

Wine

  • material used to seal the end of a bottle, traditionally made from a round plug cut from the bark of a cork oak. Newer plastic materials are more efficient and less likely to include faults that can lead to a corked wine but look and feel different and do not generally appeal to consumers. An alternative is to use a screwcap, but, again, this does not appeal to consumers particularly of fine wine. Corks for still wines are cylindrical and fit into the neck of the bottle, but those for sparkling wines (popularly known as Champagne corks) are wider and driven into the neck of the bottle so that they develop a mushroom shape. Champagne corks are usually twisted out by hand rather than pulled using a corkscrew.

Origin & History of “cork”

The earliest ascertainable ancestor of cork is Spanish alcorque ‘cork sole’, which passed into English via Dutch kork. The initial al-, of course, suggests that this was of Arabic origin (al being the Arabic definite article), and it seems likely that it represents Arabic al-qūrq, which some have suggested came from Latin cortex ‘bark’, source of English cortex (17th c.). The use of cork for a bottle-stopper made from cork dates from the early 16th century.
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