Share this entry

cockney Syllabification: cock·ney
Pronunciation: /ˈkäknē/

Definition of cockney in English:

noun (plural cockneys)

1A native of East London, traditionally one born within hearing of Bow Bells.
Example sentences
  • A cockney by birth, he signed for United as a trainee in 1991.
  • A cockney by birth, he had been apprenticed to an engraver and had only become a soldier as a volunteer in the invasion scare of 1800.
  • This is usually cited as evidence of British fortitude - the attitude exemplified by cockneys in the heavily bombed East End who told Winston Churchill, ‘We can take it, but give it 'em back.’
1.1The dialect or accent typical of cockneys.
Example sentences
  • Her accent is a mixture of English cockney and West Country.
  • English accents are not limited to cockney, upper-class twit or Mancunian.
  • It sounds like my friends and I are bunch of characters from Oliver Twist sitting around the table with cockney accents begging for more porridge.


Back to top  
Of or characteristic of cockneys or their dialect or accent: cockney humor
More example sentences
  • Today he looks back on the chirpy cockney character of the director's earlier work with something approaching distaste.
  • I've got London blood so I haven't struggled with the cockney accent.
  • The woman's husband spoke with a cockney accent.


Early 17th century, originally in the sense 'a town dweller regarded as affected or puny'.

  • A cockney was originally a pampered or spoilt child. This use may derive from a similar word, cokeney ‘a cock's egg’, which, since cocks do not lay eggs, actually meant a poor specimen of a hen's egg, a small and misshapen one. The ‘pampered child’ meaning developed into an insulting term for someone who lives in the town, regarded as effeminate and weak, in contrast to hardier country dwellers. By the beginning of the 17th century the word was being applied to someone from the East End of London, traditionally someone born within the sound of Bow Bells (the bells of St Mary-le-Bow church in the City of London).

Definition of cockney in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day doofus
Pronunciation: ˈduːfʌs
a stupid person