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 (“cocks'”) + 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)
- (Britain slang) Any Londoner.
- (Britain) A Londoner born within earshot of the city's Bow Bells, or (now generically) any working-class Londoner.