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Whatcha cock

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on May 13, 2011 at 13:49

In Reply to: Whatcha cock posted by Gary Martin on May 10, 2011 at 14:02:

: : As a boy in the 1950s I used the phrase "whatcha cock" as a greeting. I can't find any reference to its use; can someone else?

: Whatcha is a contraction of 'what cheer?' or possibly of 'what do you?', i.e. it is a general greeting. 'Cock' is a generic name for man, especially in the Black Country region of the West Midlands. As 'whatcha' is more associated with London and the south east, I'm not sure where 'whatcha cock' originated.

It's more often spelt "wotcher". The OED is positive that it's a form of "what cheer?" - the first two citations, in the 1890s, both spell it in two separate words as "wot cher". The earliest is from a song performed by Albert Chevalier, a London-born music hall artiste; Chevalier's stage persona was overtly Cockney and he specialised in costermonger songs. Certainly I've always known it as a typical cockney greeting. (VSD)