British schoolyard slang for "toughest" in a particular group. There were many different 'categories', from "cock of the class" to "cock of the year" to "cock of the school". Cocks from other schools would generally fight it out as a show of pride/stupidity/both.

How ironic. They were a bunch of cocks then...

I swear to god I'm not making this up.

The cock, or rooster, is a creature associated with life and life cycles, death, and divination. The bird's habit of crowing at sunrise, as well as the crimson comb atop its head, mark the cock as a "sun-bird", or harbinger of dawn and light. Various religions throughout history have assigned special significance to the cock's crowing; it was said to have been the first animal to proclaim the birth of Christ. Both some Christians and the Norsemen held a belief that the end of the world would be heralded by the crowing of a mighty rooster.

If a cock crows at some time other than dawn, many cultures interpret it as a death omen; this has in some cases resulted in the senseless killing of a poor animal, in order to ward off the death promised to the person under whose window the rooster has decided to vocalize.

Cocks have been called upon for divination involving weather predictions, impending arrival of visitors, and detection of thieves. It is said in some parts of England that if a cock sits on a fence or gate to crow, rain is likely the next day. If the cock tries to enter a house through the front door, strangers are likely to visit. The thief-detection ritual calls for the cock to be placed under something; perhaps a blanket or cooking-pot; all suspects will then each in turn touch the object covering the cock -- he will crow when his covering is touched by the guilty party.

The color of the cock was often a factor in the superstitions surrounding the creature. White cocks were considered lucky, and any farm blessed with a white cock was said to be fortunate. White cocks were thus protected; to kill one was to invite horrible luck. Black cocks, on the other hand, were often employed in charms and rituals that required the bird's life to be sacrificed. In Scotland and Cornwall, a traditional cure for epilepsy was to kill and bury the cock at the exact spot where an afflicted person had had a seizure. A more complicated ritual required the epileptic's fingernail cuttings, a sixpence, and a paper on which the names of the Trinity were written to be tied under the wing of a black cock. The encumbered cock was then buried alive. It was important that the black cock be fully black, with no white feathers, in order for the charms to work.

The treatment of the cock throughout history is characteristic of the omens and rituals associated with animals with some specialized talent, habit, or physical feature. In mankind's desperation to influence forces over which we had little control, we mentally and emotionally bound Earth's animals to a role of magic tokens, for good or ill.


Reference: The Encyclopedia of Superstitions, by E. & M.A. Radford, Dufour Editions, Inc. 1948

Cock (?), n. [AS. coc; of unkown origin, perh. in imitation of the cry of the cock. Cf. Chicken.]

1.

The male of birds, particulary of gallinaceous or domestic fowls.

2.

A vane in the shape of a cock; a weathercock.

Drenched our steeples, drowned the cocks! Shak.

3.

A chief man; a leader or master.

[Humorous]

Sir Andrew is the cock of the club, since he left us. Addison.

4.

The crow of a cock, esp. the first crow in the morning; cockcrow.

[Obs.]

He begins at curfew, and walks till the first cock. Shak.

5.

A faucet or valve.

Jonsons says, "The handly probably had a cock on the top; things that were contrived to turn seem anciently to have had that form, whatever was the reason." Skinner says, because it used to be constructed in forma critae galli, i.e., in the form of a cock's comb.

6.

The style of gnomon of a dial.

Chambers.

7.

The indicator of a balance.

Johnson.

8.

The bridge piece which affords a bearing for the pivot of a balance in a clock or watch.

Knight.

Ball cock. See under Ball. -- Chaparral cock. See under Chaparral. -- Cock and bull story, an extravagant, boastful story; a canard. -- Cock of the plains Zool. See Sage cock. -- Cock of the rock Zool., a South American bird (Rupicola aurantia) having a beautiful crest. -- Cock of the walk, a chief or master; the hero of the hour; one who has overcrowed, or got the better of, rivals or competitors. -- Cock of the woods. See Capercailzie.

 

© Webster 1913.


Cock (?), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Cocked (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Cocking.] [Cf. Gael. coc to cock.]

1.

To set erect; to turn up.

Our Lightfoot barks, and cocks his ears. Gay.

Dick would cock his nose in scorn. Swift.

2.

To shape, as a hat, by turning up the brim.

3.

To set on one side in a pert or jaunty manner.

They cocked their hats in each other's faces. Macaulay.

4.

To turn (the eye) obliquely and partially close its lid, as an expression of derision or insinuation.

Cocked hat. (a) A hat with large, stiff flaps turned up to a peaked crown, thus making its form triangular; -- called also three-cornered hat<-- or tricorn -->. (b) A game similar to ninepins, except that only three pins are used, which are set up at the angles of a triangle.

 

© Webster 1913.


Cock, v. i.

To strut; to swagger; to look big, pert, or menacing.

Addison.

 

© Webster 1913.


Cock, n.

The act of cocking; also, the turn so given; as, a cock of the eyes; to give a hat a saucy cock.

 

© Webster 1913.


Cock, n. [It. cocca notch of an arrow.]

1.

The notch of an arrow or crossbow.

2.

The hammer in the lock of a firearm.

At cock, At full cock, with the hammer raised and ready to fire; -- said of firearms, also, jocularly, of one prepared for instant action. -- At half cock. See under Half. -- Cock feather Archery, the feather of an arrow at right angles to the direction of the cock or notch.

Nares.

 

© Webster 1913.


Cock, v. t.

To draw the hammer of (a firearm) fully back and set it for firing.

 

© Webster 1913.


Cock, v. i.

To draw back the hammer of a firearm, and set it for firing.

Cocked, fired, and missed his man. Byron.

 

© Webster 1913.


Cock, n. [Cf. Icel. kokkr lump, Dan. kok heap, or E. cock to set erect.]

A small concial pile of hay.

 

© Webster 1913.


Cock, v. t.

To put into cocks or heaps, as hay.

Under the cocked hay. Spenser.

 

© Webster 1913.


Cock, n. [Of. coque, F. coche, a small vessel, L. concha muscle shell, a vessel. See Coach, and cf.Cog small boat.]

A small boat.

Yond tall anchoring bark [appears] Diminished to her cock; her cock, a buoy Almost too small for sight. Shak.

 

© Webster 1913.


Cock, n.

A corruption or disguise of the word God, used in oaths.

[Obs.] "By cock and pie."

Shak.

 

© Webster 1913.

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