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Cock and Bull revisited

Posted by Margaret on May 09, 2007

It's some time since the origin of a "cock-and-bull story" was under discussion.

I note that there are several theories, most involving the animals themselves. But surely the answer lies in the age-old habit of referring to rubbish or nonsense in male anatomical terms, i.e. balls, ballocks/bollocks, cock (as in "talking talk").

It follows then that the original form was possibly "a cock-and-balls story", meaning utter nonsense as it included both the penis and testicles. The "s" in balls would over time have become elided to the "s" in story, whether through usage or deliberately so, to spare the sensibilities of the oversensitive.