Definition of cockpit in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkɒkpɪt/


1A compartment for the pilot, and sometimes also the crew, in an aircraft or spacecraft.
Example sentences
  • Today, the Air Force involuntarily removes young pilots from the cockpits of manned aircraft for 36 months to ‘fly’ unmanned aerial vehicles.
  • With the proliferation in business aircraft of glass cockpits and automated flight controls, traditional techniques to train professional pilots are inevitably evolving.
  • The aircraft has a glass cockpit and an electronic flight control system.
1.1The driver’s compartment in a racing car.
Example sentences
  • Strapped into the tight confines of the cockpit the driver has only one means of non-verbal expression - wobbling his head.
  • One lucky fan will be chosen to sit in the cockpit of the dragster while the engine is warmed up.
  • Because there are no timeouts other than a caution period here and there, drivers are strapped into cockpits that are more like saunas for three to four hours.
1.2A space for the helmsman in some small yachts.
Example sentences
  • The Challenger's centre hull has a cockpit with a sailor seat, making it possible to sail without moving around.
2A place where cockfights are held.
Example sentences
  • Cock fighting drew crowds to the cockpits on Bootham and elsewhere.
2.1A place where a battle or other conflict takes place: most conventional army training takes place on the cockpit of Salisbury Plain
More example sentences
  • Refugees are also produced by ‘failed states’ that become cockpits for battling warlords.
  • He is far from the English shires and urban heartlands that have become cockpits of the revolt against the government's plans for university top-up fees.
  • Take this region, the cockpit of so much of world conflict today, as an example.


Late 16th century (in sense 2): from cock1 + pit1. sense 1 dates from the early 20th century and derives from an early 18th-century nautical term denoting an area in the aft lower deck of a man-of-war where the wounded were taken, later coming to mean 'the ‘pit’ or well from which a yacht is steered'; hence the place housing the controls of other vehicles.

  • At first a cockpit was a place for holding cock fights, so from the beginning the word had connotations of bloodshed and injury. This accounts for it being applied in the early 18th century to the area in the aft lower deck of a man-of-war where wounded sailors were treated during a battle. It then came to be used for the well from which you steer a sailing yacht. Finally, in the 20th century, cockpit acquired its modern meaning, the area or compartment that houses the controls of an aircraft or racing car.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: cock|pit

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