Definition of cocktail in English:


Syllabification: cock·tail
Pronunciation: /ˈkäkˌtāl


  • 1An alcoholic drink consisting of a spirit or several spirits mixed with other ingredients, such as fruit juice, lemonade, or cream: [as modifier]: cocktail parties a cocktail bar
    More example sentences
    • The fight came at the end of a night's clubbing during which the prince is reported to have drunk vodka cocktails, tequila and beer.
    • Just as my fellow students were intimidated by formal grammar, a lot of otherwise sophisticated people are intimidated by spirits, cocktails and mixed drinks.
    • Spring is the time in her restaurant for rum drinks, cocktails with fruit and drinks with fizz.
  • 1.1A mixture of substances or factors, especially when dangerous or unpleasant in its effects: financial pressure plus isolation can be a deadly cocktail for some people a cocktail of drugs that inhibits replication of HIV
    More example sentences
    • The company is focusing on getting its cocktail, a mixture of three drugs, to market.
    • A well-known technique is to give horses a cocktail of substances from the same family of drugs.
    • A cocktail of substances is now burning from several storage containers, but fire authorities say the blaze is well under control.
  • 2A dish consisting of small pieces of seafood or fruits, typically served cold at the beginning of a meal as an hors d’oeuvre: a shrimp cocktail
    More example sentences
    • On the menu are such delights of Olde England: prawn cocktail, steak Diane and banana flambé
    • A tempting array of starters ranged from melon, garlic bread and prawn cocktail through to pasta dishes which could have been a main course in themselves.
    • Her preferences seem to rest mainly on seafood cocktails, shrimp and tilapia - a fish I normally find to be insipid stuff.


early 17th century: from cock1 + tail1. The original use was as an adjective describing a creature with a tail like that of a cock, specifically a horse with a docked tail; hence (because hunters and coach horses were generally docked) a racehorse that was not a thoroughbred, having a cock-tailed horse in its pedigree (early 19th cent). sense 1 (originally US, also early 19th century) is perhaps analogous, from the idea of an adulterated spirit.

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a slit made by cutting with a saw