Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to: navigation, search


Alternative forms[edit]


Late 16th century: perhaps from obsolete Italian cozzonare 'to cheat', from cozzone 'middleman, broker', from Latin cocio 'dealer'.



cozen (third-person singular simple present cozens, present participle cozening, simple past and past participle cozened)

  1. (archaic) To cheat; to defraud; to deceive, usually by small arts, or in a pitiful way.
    • 1595, George Peele, The Old Wives’ Tale, The Malone Society Reprints, 1908, lines 54-56,[1]
      [] good Vulcan, for Cupids sake that hath cousned us all: befriend us as thou maiest []
    • 1602, William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, Act III, Scene 2,
      What devil was't / That thus hath cozen'd you at hoodman-blind?
    • a. 1667, Jeremy Taylor, 1851, The Whole Works of the Right Rev. Jeremy Taylor, Volume 1, page 895,
      It is certain that children may be cozened into goodness, and sick men to health, and passengers in a storm into safety; and the reason of these is, — because not only the end is fair, and charitable, and just, but the means are such which do no injury to the persons which are to receive benefit; [] .
    • 1866, Spoils, By a Receiver, Charles Chauncey Burr (editor), The Old Guard: A Monthly Journal Devoted to the Principles of 1776 and 1787, Volume 4, page 497,
      The man, too, who has been matrimonially cozened, "would all the world might be cozened," for he has been cozened, and beaten too; but with him the cudgel is "hallowed;" he would "hang it o'er the altar;" perhaps for the reason given by the "Merry Wives of Windsor," because "it hath done meritorious service;" and no sooner is he, by a seemingly merciful disposition of Providence, released from the cudgeler, but he is in haste to be cozened and beaten again.
    • 1914, Rafael Sabatini, The Gates of Doom, 2001, page 217,
      But that you should have been cozened with me, that my cozening should in part have been a natural sequel to your own, rather than an independent error of mine, is a helpful reflection to me in this dark hour.
    Synonyms: beguile

Usage notes[edit]

Modern usage is generally to effect a dated style.

Related terms[edit]



  • Webster's New School and Office Dictionary, copyright 1962
  • "cozen" on Online Etymology Dictionary