cockalorum

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Possibly English cock (rooster), with -a- and Latin -lorum suffixed as a fanciful elaboration; or from a Dutch onomatopoeic dialect term kockeloeren (the cry of a rooster; cock-a-doodle-doo), hence the modern Dutch verb koekeloeren (to crow).

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

cockalorum (plural cockalorums)

  1. A menial, yet self-important person; a person who makes empty boasts.
    • 1871, F[rancis] C[owley] Burnand, More Happy Thoughts &c., &c. (Handy-Volume series; no. X), 2nd edition, London: Bradbury, Evans, and Co., 10, Bouverie St., OCLC 59585643, pages 189–190:
      I remark that everyone (with the exception of such Cockalorums as the Guard, who rather stands on the dignity of his uniform, I imagine) understands the Captain's English, while they don't seem to get on very well with my French.
    • 1871 February 25, “Dyngwell the Dragoon” [pseudonym], “Songs of Sixpence”, in Punch, volume LX, London: Published at the office, 85, Fleet Street, OCLC 1714437, page 82:
      A Trifle from Your Own Cockalorum, Dyngwell the Dragoon. [] Come round me, my gay Cockalorums, / And list to your own Militaire, / Who'll stand you a dozen of jorums, / And sing you a rum-ti-tum air.
    • 1906, Senate and House of Representatives (Australia), Parliamentary Debates: Session 1906, volume XXXIV, [S.l.]: Printed and published for the Govt. of the Commonwealth of Australia by J. Kemp, OCLC 5439396, page 4682, column 2:
      Senator Lt.-Col. GOULD.—The honorable senator does not regard the members of the Commission as infallible? / Senator GIVENS.—I do not. I think that the Chairman of the Commission is inclined to look upon himself as a sort of tin god—the Lord High Cockalorum of the Commonwealth, to whom everyone must bow down.
    • 1991, Brackette F. Williams, “Preface”, in Stains on My Name, War in My Veins: Guyana and the Politics of Cultural Struggle, Durham, N.C.; London: Duke University Press, ISBN 978-0-8223-1119-5, page xvi:
      [I]t was—and, unfortunately, in the eyes of many remains—a land of Cockalorums (necessarily self-important small men) in search of Cockaigne: for today, the insistence by impoverished Guyanese on their rights to dignity and to the benefits of the modern world are too often interpreted by many of their own countrymen and by foreigners as apparent continuations of searches for personal aggrandizement and luxury without effort—as a Guyanese lady of mixed race put it—"buying prosperity."
  2. Boastful speech, crowing.
    • 2013, Leicestershire Guild of Storytelling, “High Cockalorum”, in Leicestershire & Rutland Folk Tales, Stroud, Glos.: The History Press, ISBN 978-0-7524-8578-2:
      'Sounding grander is not always better,' answered the cobber. 'Did you never hear tell of High Cockalorum?' / 'High Cockalorum! What's that?' / 'It's what they call high footling speech, or a self-important man who likes to call everything by fancy names,' said his master. 'And as I heard it, it didn't do the man in the tale any good at all.'
  3. A game similar to leapfrog.
    • 1890 January 4, Pall Mall Gazette, London: J. K. Sharpe, OCLC 266997138, page 2, column 1:
      When I went to Harrow, thirty years ago, I found a winter evening game in force there, called 'high cockalorum,' [] The players used to divide into two opposing bands of from twelve to fourteen each – in fact, the more the merrier. One side 'went down,' so as to constitute a long 'hogsback' – the last boy having a couple of pillows between himself and the wall, and each boy clasping his front rank man, and carefully tucking his own 'cocoa-nut' [i.e., head] under his right arm, so as to prevent fracture of the vertebrae. When the hogsback was thus formed, the other side came on, leapfrogging on to the backs of those who were down, the best and the steadiest jumpers being sent first. []

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