One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1The hard, shiny dark brown nut of a horse chestnut tree.
- ‘No danger of falling coconuts there, just the occasional conker.’
- ‘Also because of ‘conker’ season and the fact that he knew secrets about how to make your conker really strong, we grew brave enough to speak to him every day.’
- ‘It's a beautiful thing, the leather rich brown and shiny as a conker and trimmed with brass.’
- ‘Strong conkers were gathered in the woods, carefully dried, bored and threaded onto pieces of strong string with a secure double knot under the conker.’
- ‘Competition in the ring was ferocious as fearless competitors risked their knuckles and aimed to split the conker at the end of a leather string held by their opponent.’
- ‘I can't think of anything less palatable than setting my alarm for 8.30 am and actually getting up when it goes off - it makes me feel like a conker being prized from its casing too soon.’
- ‘Baking a conker makes it more likely to shatter.’
- ‘Each player takes turns to swing their conker at the others.’
- ‘In other words a nationwide band of amateurs who watch the landscape for signs of seasonal change - the first cuckoo, the first frogspawn, the first conker, that sort of thing.’
- ‘The inevitable dehydration that this involves causes the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds and cushions the brain to dry up, allowing the brain to rattle around inside the skull like a conker in a biscuit tin.’
- ‘These ranged from the traditional knockabout with a conker on a string, to a conkernut shy, a play on the coconut version, and wingseed throwing.’
- ‘Here, each competitor randomly selects a conker from a bag, rather than play with his own equipment.’
- ‘‘We take the conker out on the pub crawl and then before a match it gets passed around and we rub it rather hopefully,’ Dave continued.’
- ‘Did you opt for a few preliminary skirmishes to test out the ability of your conker to achieve the all important swing/force ratio, or did you immediately challenge the owner of the champion conker in the hope of immediate glory.’
- ‘I picked up a shiny, fresh conker in the street as I walked around Canonbury and Highbury for a couple of hours.’
- ‘An old date book, a leaf from a tree in Greece, a conker from Paris, a knife stolen from the Ritz, part of a love letter, etc. - all are carefully arranged to create the best effect.’
- ‘Plan B was to use a drill, of the electric kind, but this proved hazardous to one health from the result of a clip round ear from father who didn't take kindly to the holes left in the kitchen worktop after the drill had passed through the conker.’
- ‘Overprotectionism is killing the age old theory that sometimes the best way to learn what is dangerous is to get hit in the eye with a conker…’
- ‘Now on reading a typical party election manifesto, I have never been made aware of any party political concerns about the disgraceful risk of being hit on the head by a conker.’
- ‘Picking the right conker is a big gamble, but usually as long as it's fresh and has a nice gloss it will be fine.’
- 1.1conkerstreated as singular A children's game in which each child has a conker on the end of a string and takes turns trying to break another's with it.
- ‘Traditional games such as skipping, marbles and conkers are disappearing from school yards, not because children are scared of skinning their knees, but because their teachers are scared of being sued.’
- ‘But when you show me children, it is easier for me to believe the horrors if I also see them playing Knock Down Ginger, or conkers, or whatever.’
- ‘I read that certain games are to be banned in school playgrounds, including conkers and skipping, for fear of accidents.’
- ‘In some areas, horse chestnut trees have been cut down because of the possibility that children might be hurt playing conkers.’
- ‘The children just love conkers, which is a game that many of them had never played before.’
- ‘Why can't the servants of the nanny state stick to outlawing other white-knuckle sports, like the games of conkers they've been targeting over the past few days?’
- ‘A headmaster has bought his pupils safety goggles in a bid to stop a council banning games of conkers.’
- ‘We all have memories of playing conkers, or dunking apples and collecting leaves at this time of year.’
- ‘We have also had schools banning children from playing conkers and, recently, another which prohibited football unless a ‘softer’ ball was used.’
- ‘Or, out in the playground, compete in a game of conkers, marbles and - if you are up for it - hopscotch and skipping.’
- ‘Where there are no obstacles, a buddy line can be a useful safety aid, but beware of the line snagging and divers colliding like a pair of conkers on strings.’
- ‘He holds the world record for conkers by demolishing 306 in an hour, but has not yet won the Irish title.’
- ‘Back at the cottage and among wine, rakia and music we played the traditional game of cracking one another's Easter eggs together, something like the game of conkers in England.’
- ‘In my childhood we were allowed to play conkers, whip-and-top, hopscotch and even put jacket potatoes on the bonfires.’
- ‘All conkers and strings are supplied by the competition organisers.’
- ‘Governors and staff imposed the ban on the traditional break-time game because of fears the conkers could cause an anaphylactic reaction in children with nut allergies.’
Mid 19th century (a dialect word denoting a snail shell, with which the game, or a form of it, was originally played): perhaps from conch, but associated with (and frequently spelled) conquer in the 19th and early 20th centuries: an alternative name was conquerors.
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