Definition of cockney in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkɒkni/

noun (plural cockneys)

1A native of East London, traditionally one born within hearing of Bow Bells: Charlie was a cockney by birth, but he’d spent a lot of time abroad
More 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.’
1.1 [mass noun] The dialect or accent typical of cockneys: his accent was a peculiar mixture of cockney and American
More 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.
2Australian A young snapper fish (Chrysophrys auratus).


Of or characteristic of cockneys or their dialect or accent: cockney humour
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.


Late Middle English (denoting a pampered child): origin uncertain; it is apparently not the same word as Middle English cokeney 'cock's egg', denoting a small misshapen egg (probably from cock1 + obsolete ey 'egg'). A later sense was 'a town-dweller regarded as affected or puny', from which the current sense arose in the early 17th century.

  • 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).

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: cock|ney

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