First attested in Samuel Rowland's 1600 The Letting of Humours Blood in the Head-Vaine as "a Bowe-bell Cockney", from Middle English cokenay (“a spoiled child; a milksop, an effeminate man”), used in the 16th c. by English country folk as a term of disparagement for city dwellers, of uncertain etymology. Possibly from Middle English cokeney (“a small, misshapen egg”), from coken (“cock's”) + ey (“egg”) or from Cockney and Cocknay, variants of Cockaigne, a mythical land of luxury (first attested in 1305) eventually used as a humorous epithet of London. Compare cocker (“to spoil a child”).
Cockney (not comparable)
Cockney (plural Cockneys)
- (UK, pejorative, obsolete slang) Any Londoner.
- (UK, pejorative, archaic slang) Any Londoner from Cheapside in London's East End, (now generically) any poor or working-class Londoner.
- (chiefly historical) The traditional dialect or accent of such Londoners, now usually considered blent into Estuary English.