Posted by R. Berg on April 19, 2001
In Reply to: Cockney posted by Bruce Kahl on April 19, 2001
: : Why are those born within the sound of Bow Bells, London called Cockneys?
: : Is it with reference to the Cocks Egg?
: From Merriam Webster:
: One entry found for cockney.
: Main Entry: cock·ney
: Pronunciation: 'käk-nE
: Function: noun
: Inflected Form(s): plural cockneys
: Etymology: Middle English cokeney, literally, cocks' egg, from coken (genitive plural of cok cock) + ey egg, from Old English [AE]g
: Date: 14th century
: 1 obsolete a : a spoiled child b : a squeamish woman
: 2 often capitalized a : a native of London and especially of the East End of London b : the dialect of London or of the East End of London
: - cockney adjective
: - cock·ney·fy /'käk-ni-"fI/ transitive verb
: - cock·ney·ish /-nE-ish/ adjective
: - cock·ney·ism /-"i-z&m/ noun
Can someone explain to a foreigner whether "Cockney" is an insult these days? Its history, set forth in the Oxford English Dictionary, shows that it was a derisive term when first applied to Londoners--but people don't seem to mind calling themselves Cockneys.