Share this entry

Share this page

conker

Line breaks: con¦ker
Pronunciation: /ˈkɒŋkə
 
/

Definition of conker in English:

noun

British
1The hard, shiny dark brown nut of a horse chestnut tree.
Example sentences
  • It's a beautiful thing, the leather rich brown and shiny as a conker and trimmed with brass.
  • An old date book, a leaf from a tree in Greece, a conker from Paris, a knife stolen from the Ritz, part of a love letter, etc. - all are carefully arranged to create the best effect.
  • These ranged from the traditional knockabout with a conker on a string, to a conkernut shy, a play on the coconut version, and wingseed throwing.
1.1 (conkers) [treated as singular] A children’s game in which each has a conker on the end of a string and takes turns in trying to break another’s with it.
Example sentences
  • Back at the cottage and among wine, rakia and music we played the traditional game of cracking one another's Easter eggs together, something like the game of conkers in England.
  • Why can't the servants of the nanny state stick to outlawing other white-knuckle sports, like the games of conkers they've been targeting over the past few days?
  • Or, out in the playground, compete in a game of conkers, marbles and - if you are up for it - hopscotch and skipping.

Origin

mid 19th century (a dialect word denoting a snail shell, with which the game, or a form of it, was originally played): perhaps from conch, but associated with (and frequently spelled) conquer in the 19th and early 20th cents: an alternative name was conquerors.

More
  • Children originally played conkers not with horse chestnuts but with snail shells. The word conker is first recorded in the 1840s as a dialect word for a snail shell, and may have originally come from conch (Middle English), a kind of mollusc, which is probably also the origin of conk (early 19th century), meaning ‘the nose’. On the other hand, conker could be related to conquer (ME, from Latin conquirere ‘gain, win’), which was how conker was often spelled. Indeed, an alternative name for the game at one time was conquerors. Horse chestnuts seem to have replaced snail shells late in the 19th century.

Words that rhyme with conker

concha, conquer, Dzongkha, plonker, stonker

Definition of conker in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

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 Noel
Pronunciation: nəʊˈɛl
noun
Christmas…