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Alternative forms[edit]


Possible corruption of French décalcomanie (process of transferring designs onto surfaces using decals); sometimes erroneously claimed to derive from Yiddish.[1]



cockamamie (plural cockamamies)

  1. (US, chiefly dated) A decal, a design that can be transferred to a surface.
    • 1934, Henry Roth, Call It Sleep, 1976, page 367,
      “If it wuz a nickel,” said one broody voice between the gratings, “I could buy fuh two cends cockamamies an’ pud em on mine hull arm. An’ den fuh t’ree cends I’ll go to duh movies.”
      “Yuh c’n buy fuh t’ree cends cockamamies.” Izzy crisply revised the dream.
    • 1987, Verbatim, Volumes 14-15, page 24,
      As a youngster in The Bronx in the early 1930s, I would occasionally take my windfall of a few pennies to the local candy store and buy a strip of cockamamies, ‘comic-style cartoons in brilliant colors, each about an inch by an inch and a half, transferable to forearm or forehead by wetting’, preferably with saliva to make things agreeably messy.
    • 2000, Lillian Bressman, Tales of Mama and Other Reminiscences[1], page 201:
      Lo and behold, in full color there was a photograph of an old glass-paned hanging cupboard with clusters of strawberry, cherry, green grape and apple “cockamamies” pasted in the center of each pane.
    • 2011, Prospero Shimon, Autobiography of a Repaired Physician, unnumbered page,
      She bought Japanese furniture in 1943 when everyone hated the Japanese. Goldfarb’s furniture store on Pitkin Avenue could hardly give the stuff away. Evelyn had cockamamies—decorative plastic adhesives all over the walls.
  2. A foolish or ridiculous person.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:fool
    • 1970, Esquire, Volume 74, page 69,
      “What’s going down here, you cockamamies, we’re releasing two pictures this week about goddamn rich guys who get involved with their goddamn black tenants? What is this, an April Fool’s memo?”



cockamamie (comparative more cockamamie, superlative most cockamamie)

  1. (informal) Foolish, ill-considered, silly, unbelievable.
    Synonyms: goofy, sappy, unreasonable; see also Thesaurus:foolish, Thesaurus:absurd
    Do not give any more cockamamie reasons for failing to complete your assignment.
    • 2004, William Dritschilo, Earth Days: Ecology Comes Of Age As A Science[2], page 271:
      Anyone arguing against even the most cockamamie idea, so long as that idea is supposed to benefit conservation, is viewed with suspicion, at best.
    • 2005, George D. Schultz, Returning: Can One Ever Go Back?[3], page 8:
      And I dare say it’ll get even more cockamamie.
    • 2012, Roger Ebert, Roger Ebert’s Movie Yearbook 2013: 25th Anniversary Edition[4], page 113:
      Cowboys & Aliens has without any doubt the most cockamamie plot I’ve witnessed in many a moon.
    • 2007, Suzann Ledbetter, Halfway To Half Way, 2012, unnumbered page,
      Notions didn’t come more cockamamie than this one, but one unrepressed chortle and Delbert would be furious, or feel like a fool.
  2. Trifling.


Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Michael Quinion (1996–2022), “Cockamamie”, in World Wide Words.