One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Chiefly with allusion to Shakespeare: a vain or conceited person; a popinjay.
Early 17th century; earliest use found in William Shakespeare (1564–1616), playwright and poet. Origin unknown. Perhaps a variant of patchcock, or perhaps a transmission error for or variant of peacock (although the latter explanation seems unlikely given that the spellings peacock or peacocke are found in the First Folio in the five other places where the word occurs). See further the Arden Shakespeare edition (ed. H. Jenkins, 1982) 509–10.
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