Posted by R. Berg on September 07, 2001
In Reply to: Cochleae cordis? posted by Bruce Kahl on September 07, 2001
: : : Anybody know where this phrase originated and what it means?
: : : "warms the cockles of my heart"
: : Meaning: Causes a pleasant feeling of a sentimental kind, is
comforting, is reassuring.
: : Origin: Not clear. The shell of the cockle, a mussel, is somewhat heart-shaped, but that may not have produced this phrase.
: : Entry from Webster's Second Unabridged, 1934: "Cockles of the heart: A phrase (in which 'cockles' is of uncertain meaning) denoting the depths of the heart; as, to 'delight, rejoice, cheer, warm,' etc., 'the cockles of one's heart.'"
: Maybe cockles is a medical term.
: The heart is composed of various parts that work in unison to pump blood throughout the body.
: One of the parts of the heart is called a ventricle. I dont remember if the ventricle pumps in or sends blood out but it makes no difference in this discussion.
: Anyway, the Latin term for the heart's ventricles is "cochleae cordis".
: Could "cockle" be a corruption of "cochleae cordis"?
Correction: I mistakenly said "mussel" above. I meant to say "mollusk."
"Cockle" formerly applied vaguely to various bivalves but is now
More on derivation: It's unsettled. Oxford Engl. Dict. says "For derivation cf. quot. 1669. Others have sought its origin in L. 'corculum' dim. of 'cor' heart. (Latham conjectured 'the most probable explanation lies in the likeness of a heart to a cockleshell; the base of the former being compared to the hinge of the latter; in the zoological name for the cockle being Cardium, from the Greek [word for] heart'."
This is the "quot. 1669": R. Lower, "Tract. de Corde," . . . Fibrae quidem spirali suo amb tu h licem sive cochleam satis apte referunt.
"Tu h" doesn't look right; individual letters in my OED may have failed to print.
- Cockles ESC 09/07/01