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Etymology 1[edit]

From cock (male domestic chicken) +‎ -y (suffix forming adjectives with the sense of ‘having the quality of’).[1]


cocky (comparative cockier, superlative cockiest)

  1. Overly confident; arrogant and boastful.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:arrogant
    • 1794, Alexander Ross, [Joseph Ritson, compiler], “Song XXVII. What Ails the Lasses at Me. [] [Billet by Jeany Gradden.]”, in Scotish Songs. In Two Volumes, volume I, London: Printed for J[oseph] Johnson, []; and J. Egerton, [], →OCLC, page 246:
      And now I think I may be cocky, / Since fortune has ſmurtl'd on me, / I'm Jenny, an' ye ſhall be Jockie, / 'Tis right we together ſud be; [...]
    • 1819 November 13, W[illia]m Cobbett, “To Henry Hunt, Esq.”, in Cobbett’s Weekly Political Register, volume 35, number 12, London: Printed and sold by William Benbow, [], →OCLC, column 376:
      Pretty girls, indeed, can with impunity, menace their lovers with quitting them; but cocky Waithman, will, if he try it often, soon find, that he cannot play such tricks without having to repent of it.
    • 1876, [Sarah Tytler, pseudonym of Henrietta Keddie], “What She Came Through”, in Donald McLeod, editor, Good Words, volume XVII, London: Daldy, Isbister & Co. [], →OCLC, chapter XII (A New Day’s-Man at the Manor), page 250:
      You are a cockie chap to go again a man axing where and what you 'a been when you are axing a place, [...]
    • 1881 November 29, Ernest Mason Satow, “[Letter to William George Aston]”, in Ian Ruxton, editor, Sir Ernest Satow’s Private Letters to W. G. Aston and F. V. Dickins: The Correspondence of a Pioneer Japanologist from 1870 to 1918: [], [Morrisville, N.C.]: Lulu Press, published 5 February 2008, →ISBN, page 66:
      Hodges has made a great fool of himself, by getting gradually cockier and cockier.
    • 1996, Knut Hamsun, translated by Sverre Lyngstad, Hunger[1], Edinburgh: Canongate Books, →ISBN; republished Edinburgh: Canongate Books, 2016, →ISBN:
      I wasn't the least bit proud. I dare say I was one of the least cocky creatures in existence these days.
    • 2008, V. Montrell Jones, The Grass is Bluer on the Other Side, [Bloomington, Ind.]: Xlibris, →ISBN, page 75:
      When Yvette came out of the bathroom, I said baby turn on the cd player. For what the only singing you gonna hear is your own when I get up in you. She's getting cockey I thought.
    • 2008, Gerard Thomas, Nightwarrior Chronicles: All Girls′ Team, [Bloomington, Ind.]: AuthorHouse, →ISBN, page 85:
      The confidence that was temporarily humbled now returned with a cockier attitude.
    • 2009, D. K. Hale, chapter 8, in Curiosity is Deadly, [Bloomington, Ind.]: Xlibris, →ISBN, page 112:
      No more being cockie. This is, as of now, an official operation. I do not take anymore chances for foolish reasons. I have to do this job absolutely right the first time. This is the only shot any of us are going to have, I'm afraid.
    • 2011, Melanie Harvey, chapter 30, in Indispensable Friendship & Death Collide, [Bloomington, Ind.]: Xlibris, →ISBN, page 204:
      You smiling your oh-so-perfect smile and me with the biggest, cockiest grin on my face you can ever imagine. I would have been the cockiest man alive that night knowing you were going home with me.
Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From cock (male domestic chicken) +‎ -y (diminutive suffix).[2]


cocky (plural cockies)

  1. (chiefly Britain, Ireland, Newfoundland, colloquial, dated) Used as a term of endearment, originally for a person of either sex, but later primarily for a man.
    • 1693, [William] Congreve, The Old Batchelour, a Comedy. [], 2nd edition, London: [] Peter Buck, [], →OCLC, Act IV, page 31:
      Nay Cocky, Cocky, nay dear Cocky, do not cry, I was but in Jeſt, I was not ifeck.
    • 1725, Desiderius Erasmus, “The Young Man and the Harlot”, in N[athan] Bailey, transl., All the Familiar Colloquies of Desiderius Erasmus, of Roterdam, Concerning Men, Manners, and Things, Translated into English, London: Printed for J. Darby, [], →OCLC, page 196:
      Lu[cretia]. Ah, ah, are we not by our ſelves already, my Cocky? So[phronius]. Let us go out of the Way ſomewhere, into a more private Place.
    • 1757, [Tobias George Smollett], The Reprisal: Or, The Tars of Old England. [], London: [] R[oberts] Baldwin, [], →OCLC, Act II, scene ix:
      Now, cocky, ye may gang about your buſineſs; when ye come back, I'ſe tauk with you in another ſtile.
    • 1825 April 2, “To the Freeholders of Ireland. Letter II.”, in William Cobbett, editor, Cobbett’s Weekly Register, volume LIV, number 1, London: Printed and published by C. Clement, [], →OCLC, column 22:
      Hobhouse's insolence to Mr. Hunt is not seen in its true light, unless we remember, that the latter is held under heavy recognizances to keep the peace! The little cocky seems to have been half mad; and well he might.
    • 1870 July, “Old Calabar” [pseudonym], “A Sporting Story”, in Baily’s Monthly Magazine of Sports and Pastimes, and Turf Guide, volume XVIII, number 125, London: A. H. Baily & Co., [], →OCLC, chapter VI (Mr. Bouncer Brag Composes), page 306:
      "Go on board that little cockleshell of yourn?"—pointing to the splendid yacht—"not if I knows it, my cockeys! This old oss is spry to when he is well off—so make tracks and be off, before you gits this old coon's dander up.
    • 1940s, Francis Beckett, quoting Ralph Richardson speaking to Laurence Olivier, “The War and the Old Vic”, in Laurence Olivier, London: Haus Publishing, published 2005, →ISBN, page 72:
      They're not going to stand for a couple of actors bossing the place [The Old Vic theatre] around any more. We shall be out, old cockie.
    • 2005, Martin Pilcher, chapter 12, in The Banana Skin Tango, [United Kingdom]: Aardvark-Zap Publishing, →ISBN, page 118:
      Somewhere, somehow, there had to be something more ennobling than that. But how to find it? Ah, there's the rub, my cockies.
Alternative forms[edit]
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 3[edit]

The noun is derived from cock(atoo) +‎ -y (diminutive suffix).[3] The verb is derived from the noun.[4]


cocky (plural cockies) (chiefly Australia, New Zealand, informal)

  1. (informal) A familiar name for a cockatoo.
    • 1868 October, M. G. Sleeper, “Pets and Sports in Tasmania”, in Merry’s Museum, for Boys and Girls, volume 1 (New Series), number 10, Boston, Mass.: Horace B. Fuller, publisher, [], published 1869, →OCLC, page 399:
      By that time, the white cockatoo—a beautiful bird, as large as a common fowl—would find out the family gathering-place, and waddle along, calling 'Pretty Cocky! Pretty Cocky!' [] Presently, Cocky ruffles his plumage till he looks half as large again as before; he throws his crest, with its double fan of brilliantly yellow feathers, as far forward as possible, and spreads and closes it rapidly.
    • 1923, D[avid] H[erbert] Lawrence, “Willie Struthers and Kangaroo”, in Kangaroo, London: Martin Secker [], →OCLC, page 229:
      "Hello Cocky! What yer want?" This in a more-than-human voice from a fine sulphur-crested cockatoo. "Hello Cocky!" His thick black tongue worked in his narrow mouth. So absolutely human the sound, and yet a bird's.
    • 2005 August 5, Tim Jeanes, “Town Seeks Environmental Accreditation”, in The World Today, Australian Broadcasting Commission[2], archived from the original on 1 October 2017:
      Visit the local store at Coles Bay and you're greeted by a talking cocky called Jim. [] [A]s we bid farewell to this environmental showpiece, Jim the talking cocky is again the centre of attention …
    • 2008, Amanda Lohrey, Vertigo: A Novella, Melbourne, Vic.: Black Inc., Schwartz Publishing, →ISBN; Vertigo: A Pastoral, 2nd edition, Melbourne, Vic.: Black Inc., Schwartz Publishing, 2009, →ISBN, pages 57–58:
      One afternoon a flock of glossy black cockatoos alights on a cluster of she-oaks in the western corner of the yard where they screech in ear-splitting decibels until dusk. [] [H]e tells her that the arrival of black cockies is a portent of rain. But the rain doesn't come.
    • 2011, Barry Simiana, chapter 15, in A Touch of Evil, [Morrisville, N.C.?]: Nitewriter Media, →ISBN, page 131:
      He smacked his lips a couple of times and grimaced. God, his mouth tastled like the bottom of a cockie’s cage. Probably smelt as appealing too.
    • 2012, Samantha Carter, “Hard Won Rewards”, in All Secrets Told, [Bloomington, Ind.]: Xlibris, →ISBN, page 61:
      Next comes the rosellas and the cockatoos and the rest of the local parrots. Their singing is much heartier, and they begin to drown out their cousins. Finally Kate can hear a galah, his deep-throated song is interrupted by the cockies, but he is persistent in his welcome to the day.
  2. (also attributively) Short for cockatoo farmer (small-scale farmer); (by extension) any farmer or owner of rural land.
    Synonyms: cockatoo, crofter
    • 1896, Henry Lawson, “Another of Mitchell’s Plans for the Future”, in While the Billy Boils, Sydney, N.S.W.: Angus and Robertson [], →OCLC, page 110:
      'I'll get down among the cockies along the Lachlan or some of those rivers,' said Mitchell, throwing down his swag beneath a big tree. 'A man stands a better show down there. [...] One cocky I worked for wanted me to stay with him for good. Sorry I didn't. [...']
    • 1907, Barbara Baynton, chapter 2, in Human Toll, London: Duckworth & Co., →OCLC; republished as Human Toll (eBook; no. 0607531h.html)‎[3], [Australia]: Project Gutenberg Australia, September 2006, archived from the original on 13 September 2018:
      We camped one evening at Narrangidgery Creek, close b’ a cocky’s ’umstead.
    • 1946, Miles Franklin, “Back on the Land”, in My Career Goes Bung: Purporting to be the Autobiography of Sybella Penelope Melvyn, Melbourne, Vic.: Georgian House, →OCLC; republished as My Career Goes Bung (eBook; 0900281h.html)‎[4], [Australia]: Project Gutenberg Australia, March 2015, archived from the original on 12 September 2018:
      Burrawong was one of the larger stations in which much of the good land of the district was locked. The cockies usually had to follow the main road, but since the drought the owners had opened one of their permanent water-holes so that the poorer settlers could cart water to their homesteads.
    • 2001, Peter Doyle, The Devil’s Jump, Milsons Point, N.S.W.: Arrow/Random House, →ISBN; The Devil’s Jump (A Dark Passage Book), 1st American edition, Portland, Or.: Verse Chorus Press, 2008, →ISBN, page 255:
      That chap could be one of them. Or it could be the local butcher or newsagent, or cow cockie. We don't know. We've got to keep going.
    • 2001 November 19, Shelley Horton, “Media Dimensions: Episode 15”, in Australian Broadcasting Commission[5], archived from the original on 17 November 2007:
      And stories in the bush may not seem relevant in the big smoke, but try telling that to a cocky.
    • 2010, Jackie French, A Waltz for Matilda (Matilda Saga; 1)‎[6], Pymble, N.S.W.: Angus & Robertson, →ISBN:
      Now—well, Moura was scarcely Drinkwater, but it was more than just a cocky farm too.
    • 2018, Jeremy Ward, “The McCullochs and the Kimlins”, in Dressmakers, Preachers and Cockies: A Family History Memoir, Tingalpa, Qld.: Boolarong Press, →ISBN, page 4:
      Joseph was a cockie, a small-scale farmer. Such farmers were called cockies in the early days of European settlement in Australia because, like the cockatoos that weaved and screeched above them, they made their homes on the edges of creeks and permanent waterholes.
Usage notes[edit]

In New Zealand, cocky (sense 2) is often synonymous with sheep cocky (a sheep farmer), due to the relative importance of the industry.

Alternative forms[edit]
Derived terms[edit]


cocky (third-person singular simple present cockies, present participle cockying, simple past and past participle cockied)

  1. (intransitive, chiefly Australia, informal, historical) To operate a small-scale farm.
    Synonym: cockatoo
    • 1919, C. Hampton Thorp, “About Various Things”, in A Handful of Ausseys, London: John Lane, The Bodley Head; New York, N.Y.: John Lane Company, →OCLC, page 116:
      But if we are bigger built than you blokes, I suppose it's 'coz we—most of us—live away from big cities, and everybody goes in for sport an' all that; plenty of ridin' an' walkin' an' swimmin' and football an' hard work. Most of us are off the land, cockeying, and the blokes who come from the cities, Sydney and places like that, they all go in for surfing an' all kinds of sport.
    • 1939 October, J[ohn] W[illiam] Robertson Scott, editor, The Countryman: An Illustrated Review & Miscellany of Rural Life and Work, volume XX, Idbury, Kingham, Oxfordshire: J. W. Robertson Scott, →ISSN, →OCLC, page 528:
      I remained about a year, cockying, clearing land, and herd-recording as a servant of the Department of Agriculture.
    • 1946, Alan J[udge] Holt, Wheat Farms of Victoria: A Sociological Survey, [Melbourne, Vic.]: School of Agriculture, University of Melbourne, →OCLC, page 150:
      [B]oys these days haven't got the guts to go cockying.
    • 1969 December, A[lbert] L[ancaster] Lloyd, Mark Gregory, interviewer, Overland, Footscray, Vic.: O. L. Society, published 1970, →ISSN, →OCLC, page 17, column 1:
      When we arrived in Sydney, we were herded together, and a mob of cockies had their pick of us as cheap pommy labor. As assisted migrants, we were more or less doomed to work in cocky country, because bush workers generally don't much like cockying.
    • 1983, Dudley St. John Magnus, Hanabeke, London: Angus & Robertson, →ISBN, page 43:
      Perhaps I ought to try getting a job somewhere cockeying. But I was against this. I was after Hanabeke and, as far as I could work out, Womboolah was the most likely place for him to be.
Alternative forms[edit]


  1. ^ cocky, adj.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, September 2019; “cocky1, adj.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  2. ^ cocky, n.1”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, September 2019.
  3. ^ cocky, n.2”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, September 2019; “cocky2, 3, n.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  4. ^ cocky, v.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, September 2019.

Jamaican Creole[edit]

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cocky (plural cocky dem or cockys dem, quantified cocky)

  1. penis