Definition of cockney in English:



  • 1A native of East London, traditionally one born within hearing of Bow Bells.

    ‘Charlie was a cockney by birth, but he'd spent a lot of time abroad’
    • ‘A cockney by birth, he had been apprenticed to an engraver and had only become a soldier as a volunteer in the invasion scare of 1800.’
    • ‘In the debate, the cockney cannily picked Derek, the professional speechwriter, to be on his side.’
    • ‘We checked out a favorite old movie starring a bunch of hapless cockneys trying to nick some gold in Italy.’
    • ‘He has a quavering, affected English accent, which the actor perhaps imagines to be that of a cheeky cockney.’
    • ‘A cockney by birth, he signed for United as a trainee in 1991.’
    • ‘His fellow crims are cockneys too, and Danny was raised amongst these people.’
    • ‘The writer was a cockney through and through, and the story behind his creation is a particularly novel one.’
    • ‘Most of the town are displaced cockneys getting away from the smoke of London.’
    • ‘Even a born-and-bred cockney could understand the published, mongrel Scots-English version.’
    • ‘It's the composer's musical valentine to London, the city of cockneys and kings.’
    • ‘Step back another half-century and you find a different scene: a highly transient place inhabited by up to 150,000 Jewish immigrants, with poverty rife among cockneys.’
    • ‘The ebullient cockney was very worried about his protégé, the man he has called the best fighter he ever worked with.’
    • ‘This presents an interesting opportunity for me to recapture the peculiar shock I felt when I first heard a massed choir of cockneys singing the song.’
    • ‘This, as far as we can tell, means ‘he is the luckiest cockney in the world’.’
    • ‘One of our lads was a cockney and only lived half-a-mile from the camp.’
    • ‘In the comic, the main character is a blond cockney, modelled on a rock musician.’
    • ‘He is a garrulous cockney from the old school of tabloid journalism.’
    • ‘Granddad was the son of a cockney who settled in Canada in the 19th century and set up a bakery.’
    • ‘This is usually cited as evidence of British fortitude - the attitude exemplified by cockneys in the heavily bombed East End who told Winston Churchill, ‘We can take it, but give it 'em back.’’
    1. 1.1mass noun The dialect or accent typical of cockneys.
      ‘his accent was a peculiar mixture of cockney and American’
      • ‘In modern cockney terms he was ‘a bit of a geezer’.’
      • ‘If that play is ever performed here, I'll audition for it, since I can do cockney really well!’
      • ‘But that's only phase one of her plan - she's also planning to learn how to speak proper cockney.’
      • ‘It sounds like my friends and I are bunch of characters from Oliver Twist sitting around the table with cockney accents begging for more porridge.’
      • ‘Her accent is a mixture of English cockney and West Country.’
      • ‘They also act according to the stereotypes promoted by the bourgeoisie of the time, including talking in comic-book cockney.’
      • ‘English accents are not limited to cockney, upper-class twit or Mancunian.’
      • ‘Why do Americans think that the English accents are either really posh or cockney?’
      • ‘She read for the part in a sort of aggressive cockney, but she had something special.’
      • ‘John Clarke is friendly, relaxed and speaks with a cockney accent undiminished by more than a quarter century spent in Ontario.’
  • 2Australian A young snapper fish (Chrysophrys auratus ).


  • Of or characteristic of cockneys or their dialect or accent.

    ‘cockney humour’
    • ‘As the series begins, Max bumps into a young cockney woman, an overworked but underpaid media researcher with a degree in communications.’
    • ‘I know this because I heard the voice of a cockney sparrer arguing on the phone yesterday when I came in from work.’
    • ‘Spike your hair out with some holding product and work on your cockney accent.’
    • ‘I ordered the rest out of the van, in my imitation cockney voice.’
    • ‘Before leaving for his meeting, the older one leans in close and mutters in his cockney accent a warning for the younger to be on the alert.’
    • ‘His self-assuredness, cockney accent and slightly droopy bottom lip are strangely endearing.’
    • ‘He developed a cockney accent so that he would fit in better with his workmates.’
    • ‘The audience can enjoy old time favourites with selections from music hall classics, musicals, cockney sing-a-longs and the songs that won the war.’
    • ‘At first, upstarts traded on their cockney origins; by the end of the decade any pop star worth his weight in velvet had acquired a stately home in the shires.’
    • ‘Today he looks back on the chirpy cockney character of the director's earlier work with something approaching distaste.’
    • ‘The two young East Enders looked and sounded for all the world like a couple of skinhead soccer fans, cockney accents and all.’
    • ‘This might sound odd but I really hated his cockney accent in the film.’
    • ‘I've got London blood so I haven't struggled with the cockney accent.’
    • ‘After winning the cleaner's confidence, Amelia was shown the manuscript of several stories of a childhood based in cockney London.’
    • ‘The woman's husband spoke with a cockney accent.’
    • ‘You must love being so famous that your name is cockney rhyming slang.’
    • ‘Most of the black and Asian blokes appeared to have Manc accents but a lot of the white blokes sounded cockney to me.’
    • ‘I am not surprised that my memory has just reminded me, unprompted, that a ‘rozzer’ is cockney slang for a police person.’
    • ‘It will feature more than 150 of the top punk and alternative acts from around the world in addition, strangely, to an appearance of cockney icons Chas and Dave.’
    • ‘Speaking with a Dickensian cockney brogue is pushing things a bit.’


Late Middle English (denoting a pampered child): origin uncertain; it is apparently not the same word as Middle English cokeney ‘cock's egg’, denoting a small misshapen egg (probably from cock + obsolete ey ‘egg’). A later sense was ‘a town-dweller regarded as affected or puny’, from which the current sense arose in the early 17th century.