cocktail, adj. and n.
Frequency (in current use):
Origin: Formed within English, by compounding. Etymons: , ,
< either or + , hence lit. either ‘a tail like that of a cock’ or ‘a tail that cocks up’; probably both have influenced different uses of the word.
Compare earlier (rare)
Use denoting mixed drinks.
The origin of sense
is much discussed and debated. Probably it developed from senses
and , the semantic motivation probably being that a mixed drink, especially one in which a spirit was diluted with other ingredients, was not a ‘thoroughbred’ or of good breeding, or otherwise lacked social propriety.
Other specific senses.
after scientific Latin fucoides caudagalli
, name formerly given to the organism of which the marks were thought to be the imprint (see note at sense).
perhaps connected with the use of the Cocktail
as a nickname of the Furnace Hill area of Sheffield (which is also mentioned in the source from which quot.
is taken); there is unlikely to be any connection between this sense and sense .
B. n. I.
Senses denoting an animal or (in extended use) a person.
An alcoholic mixed drink, and derived senses.
and in extended use.
C1. General use as a modifier, and with verbal nouns and participles forming compounds in which cocktail expresses the object of the underlying verb, in sense , as in cocktail-drinking, cocktail list, cocktail-maker, cocktail menu, cocktail tray, etc.Some of the more significant compounds of this type are treated at . See also
1870 E. P. Hingston 99/2
Your card-playing, cocktail-drinking Californians!
1893 4 July
Many attacks of indigestion are due to the cocktail habit.
1910 3 Sept. 10/1
He trailed his thumb across the whisky and cocktail list on the bill-of-fare.
1958 M. Stewart vi. 73
The entry of Seddon with the cocktail tray interrupted us.
2 Aug. (Good Living section) 1
This attractive eatery..boasts an extensive cocktail menu.
2005 17 Nov. 5/3
Ready to shake it with the best cocktail makers.
cocktail attire n. semi-formal attire suitable for wearing at a cocktail party.Often used as an indication of the dress code for an event, party, etc.
1932 22 July 30
American names were featured [at the fashion show]..such as..‘Casino’ and ‘Dividend’ for her Sunday night and cocktail attire.
20 Nov. e8/1
It used to be so simple. Get an invitation to a nice dinner, and the dress code was crystal clear: ‘black tie’ or ‘cocktail attire’.
cocktail bar n. a bar which specializes in serving cocktails; (also) a bar or counter installed in a house, from which cocktails are served.
1908 26 May 8/6
The blessings of modern civilisation. Metal roads, reinforced concrete bridges, electric trams, cocktail bars.
1934 W. Plomer xiv. 262
What the visitors took to be a cocktail bar proved..to be a gramophone.
(West End Final ed.)
9 Oct. 42/1
A new cocktail bar with modern, interactive and fresh bespoke cocktails created with local, seasonal and homemade ingredients.
cocktail cabinet n. a cabinet designed to contain bottles of spirits and mixers, glasses, etc., and usually incorporating a surface on which to mix cocktails.
1928 16 June 1080
Polished Mahogany Cocktail Cabinet. 42 inches high.
2005 Nov. (Home & Cottage Suppl.) 39/2
A less elaborate option is the cocktail cabinet: a free-standing drinks armoire.
cocktail circuit n. a round of regular social events such as cocktail parties, esp. one attended by a particular group of people who habitually associate together.
1907 in J. A. Chaloner App. 42
You can't beat the booze game... I cancelled my engagements on the cocktail circuit.
1946 7 Mar. 23/3
The main scene of the story..is in the countryside somewhere on the commuters' cocktail circuit near New York.
21 July c1
The liberal-minded diplomat..whose easygoing manner had graced the Washington cocktail circuit.
Montréal's nightlife swings with a robust passion; from the early evening..after-work cocktail circuit, to the slightly later concerts and supper clubs.
cocktail culture n. a culture or lifestyle in which drinking cocktails, or going to cocktail parties or cocktail bars, is a habitual social activity.
1940 Nov. 26/2
Dedicated to the proposition that..the wealth of the privileged should not perish, the picture ends. Predicated upon the cocktail culture of our society.
1976 Jan. 44/1
Social conditioning in a ‘cocktail culture’ also plays a major role in inducing people to drink... ‘Drinking is portrayed as a social virtue.’
2010 10 May 21/1
The Manhattan Cocktail Classic gathered mixologists, academics, and boozehounds for lectures, workshops, and other events celebrating the resurgence of cocktail culture.
cocktail dress n. a women's dress suitable for wearing at a cocktail party; esp. an elegant semi-formal dress reaching to just above or below the knee.
1921 4 Sept. 17/3
Cocktail dress stirs Paris.
1935 2 Oct. 17/4
An elaborate dinner ensemble tailored in heavy satin and with a full length skirt..makes a contrast to the cocktail dress which retains its skirt about 12 in. from the ground.
2015 14 Feb. d1/2
A Balenciaga cocktail dress..merges the structured satin of old Hollywood with a sheer fabric craftily appliquéd with tiny diamonds of embroidery.
cocktail frock n. British =
1926 25 Sept. 14/5
Garbed in a ‘cocktail frock’, ‘Mlle. Flapper’ may wave a shaker right through into the evening without bothering to change her attire.
1959 Summer 5
A matalessé cocktail frock with scooped neck.
19 July 24
Decadent dressing at Christmas is all about dazzling metallics and shimmering sequins from the pretty party cocktail frocks to the showstopping New Year's Eve ball gowns.
cocktail glass n. a type of glass used for drinking cocktails; esp. a stemmed glass with a distinctive flared or rounded bowl.
1873 3 Sept.
Pour in your gin or champagne..strain it in a cocktail glass..drop in piece of lemon peel, and then swallowed libitum.
1907 E. Wharton iii. xxiv. 354
Leaving everywhere in her wake a trail of cigarette ashes and cocktail glasses.
2014 9 Jan. 23/3
A squeeze of fresh lime and a few drops of Angostura bitters in a cocktail glass filled with sparkling water on the rocks.
cocktail gown n. a women's elegant semi-formal gown suitable for wearing at a cocktail party; cf.
1935 25 Nov. 17/5
A dinner or cocktail gown.
1993 24 Oct. 119/2
In 1953, a pale neurasthenic youth from French Algeria won the coveted International Wool Secretariat contest for dress design with a cocktail gown. Yves Saint Laurent was just 17.
cocktail hour n. the early evening, as a time of day associated with drinking cocktails as a social activity.
1893 23 May 497/1
He sits among his alcoholic fellows at the cocktail hour.
2013 26 June b8/1
As the workday in many tech and media companies stretches past the cocktail hour, more companies are stocking full bars and beer fridges.
cocktail-length adj. designating dresses and skirts having a length similar to that of a cocktail dress, typically reaching to just above or just below the knee.
1929 28 June 16/1
Party and dance wear... One and two-pieces, some with transparent velvet cocktail length jackets.
1959 11 July 13/1
The bride..looked charming in a cocktail length gown of white nylon chiffon over white taffeta.
2013 K. Kwan iii. iii. 271
I brought this cute cocktail-length black-and-white dress from Reiss.
cocktail lounge n. a bar, typically in a hotel, restaurant, etc., where cocktails and other alcoholic drinks are served.
1934 7 Mar. 12/7
It is a sort of cocktail lounge.
2006 Jan. 20/3
The hotel is offering..$50 of credit for use in either the ‘high-energy’ restaurants, cocktail lounge, spa or oasis beach club.
cocktail mixer n.
(a) a person who mixes cocktails, esp. as part of his or her job;
(b) a container in which cocktails are mixed; spec. =
1875 9 Feb. 2/3
A Detroit cocktail mixer won $2 on a wager.
1881 29 Mar. 2/2
We dip a cup—a cocktail mixer, for we are aristocrat in all things..—into the barrel and drink the water.
1959 12 July 33/3
Put the liquids over ice cubes in a cocktail mixer; stir well until thoroughly chilled.
2005 17 Nov. 5/3
South-East Queensland's most creative cocktail mixers are set to stir, shake and garnish their way to glory on Monday.
cocktail music n. music of a kind played in the background at a cocktail party or cocktail bar, now typically characterized as softly melodious, light, bland, and unobtrusive; such music as a genre.
1925 F. S. Fitzgerald iii. 49
The lights grow brighter as the earth lurches away from the sun, and now the orchestra is playing yellow cocktail music.
1934 28 Dec. 11
Although locally noted for his dance and cocktail music, the soft spot in Sidney's heart is for gypsy songs.
1968 15 Mar. 8
Tinkling Manhattan cocktail music gently insinuates itself between the leather-topped boxes on which two young things sit.
2008 Nov. 14/1
The BBC Messageboard was filled with comment, describing the service as ‘sentimental slush’ or ‘cocktail music’.
cocktail napkin n. a small napkin (originally made of linen, now usually of absorbent paper) designed to be placed under a drink when it is served, and now often used for scribbling a rough design or short message.
1913 20 Dec. 845/3
Walpole Bros. Irish linen manufacturers... cocktail napkins..tea napkins..luncheon cloths [etc.].
1930 V. Elliott & P. D. Stong 14
Chill the glasses.., place them in a circle on the tray, take the cocktail napkins from the drawer.
1965 26 Nov. 1 b/3
A will written on a cocktail napkin..has been tossed out of court.
2007 J. Díaz iii. 115
Threw her drink, her glass, and then her purse at him... Then let him have it with a stack of cocktail napkins.
cocktail onion n. a small pickled pearl onion, typically served on a cocktail stick as party food or as garnish for a cocktail.
1927 20 Aug. 9/2
1951 E. David 217
Pickled gherkins and baby cocktail onions.
1997 12 Jan. (Review section) 64/3
A martinoid drink made with a cocktail onion instead of lemon peel.
1950 8 Apr. 209/1
Spring Specials! Pocket Mirrors..Plastic Men's Combs..Toothpick Knives..Cocktail Parasols.
2015 J. Grier
Strain the drink into an ice-filled rocks or collins glass. Garnish with cherries and a cocktail parasol.
cocktail pianist n. a pianist who plays background music at a cocktail party, bar, etc., esp. one playing softly melodious, light, bland, and unobtrusive jazz; (hence) a pianist playing jazz which is characterized in this way (cf. ).
1946 1 Feb. 14/2
Cocktail pianist. Private parties.
1962 21 July 68/2
Oscar Peterson (the best cocktail pianist in the business).
2003 21 Sept. ii. 13/3
He flourished under a more unorthodox instructor, a professional cocktail pianist with a stack of ‘fake’ books, the bootleg sheet-music compilations that taught him pop songs.
cocktail piano n.
(a) a piano used for playing background music in cocktail bars or similar venues; a piano on which music of this type (characterized as softly melodious, light, and bland) is played;
(b) a style of playing jazz piano which is characterized as softly melodious, light, and bland.
1937 12 June 3
Entertainment by Bill Mosier at the cocktail piano.
1951 4 Mar. 110
Cy Walter, whose style is a few cuts above ‘cocktail piano’.
1958 7 Oct. 8/3
Robin Douglas-Home tinkling his cocktail piano.
1994 Aug. 21/1
The proximity of Hollywood invited aspirant black singers to emulate Nat King Cole's success as a ‘sepia Sinatra’—cooing blues and ballads over tinkling cocktail piano.
† cocktail powder n. Obsolete (apparently) a flavoured powder used as a ready-made ingredient for cocktails.
1865 8 July 40/2
Advertisements of quack medicines, patent skirts, cock-tail powders, plantation bitters.
cocktail reception n. a social gathering, typically before an evening event, at which cocktails, and often also canapés, are served.
1926 12 Apr. 9/4
The court martial of Col. Alexander Williams, growing out of his alleged ‘cocktail’ reception for Brig. Gen. Smedley D. Butler upon the latter's arrival here.
1962 Sept. 121/1
Convention program..6.30 p.m. Cocktail reception..7.30 p.m. Dinner..9.30 p.m. Variety show.
1994 26 Nov. 27/1
A black-tie gala..which begins with a cocktail reception at the Mansion itself.
29 Apr. b5
Our glasses will be raised for the extended cocktail reception, a sumptuous dinner and the fantastic awards program.
cocktail ring n. an eye-catching dress ring, typically set with a large (but now often inexpensive or imitation) gemstone.
1936 22 Mar. 4 d
Three-stone diamond cocktail ring set in two-tone gold.
1980 13 Jan. (Advt. Suppl.) 2
A stylish Gemfire cocktail ring with a..solitaire center stone surrounded by 6 sparkling side stones... $19.95.
2009 H. Freeman
Oversized fake cocktail rings work with both jeans and T-shirts or party outfits.
cocktail sauce n. any of various sauces typically served with seafood; now esp.
(a) (in North America) a spicy tomato sauce containing horseradish or chilli;
(b) (in Britain, Australia, and elsewhere) a mild pink creamy sauce made with mayonnaise and tomato purée or ketchup (cf. ).
1903 3 Feb. 5/5
Snider's cocktail sauce.
1922 Mar. 61
A good mixture for the cocktail sauce is as follows:..mix together one tablespoonful of catchup or chili sauce, one tablespoonful of lemon juice,..and one-fourth teaspoonful of Worcestershire sauce.
1935 16 Jan. 12/5
Pour over..a little cocktail sauce made as follows: Mix together half a cupful of tomato catsup and a quarter cupful of mayonnaise [etc.].
1960 M. Patten no. 25
Cocktail sauce for Prawn or Shrimp Cocktail.
1994 Feb. 19/1
Sandwich fillings..included..bacon and egg with mayonnaise..avocado and prawn with cocktail sauce.
2009 15 Oct. 27/1
The piquillo pepper and green-curry mayo offered as adjuncts to house-made cocktail sauce are simply too potent for seafood this fresh.
cocktail sausage n. a small sausage of a type served cold as party food, esp. on a cocktail stick.
1927 10 May 7/2
Cocktail sausage is the newest fad at the Ritz.
Cocktail Sausages flavoured with chilli.
1999 Winter 36/3
She assumes that the adults in the household would rather die than eat chicken nuggets, cocktail sausages, crisps or chocolate.
cocktail shaker n. a container in which the ingredients of a cocktail are vigorously shaken to mix them.
1868 G. A. Sala in 24 Oct. 401/1
I never possessed a pair of ‘cocktail-shakers’ myself, but a young officer in the Blues..did possess..a brace of tall silver mugs in which the ingredients of the beverage known as a ‘cocktail’..are mixed, shaken together, and then scientifically discharged.
1928 17 June 15/4
A grimacing waiter tilts his cocktail-shaker.
1993 Dec. 46/1
A stainless-steel cocktail shaker and strainer are indispensable for chilling and blending drinks ordered ‘straight up’.
cocktail-shaking n. and adj.
(a) n. the action or process of vigorously shaking the ingredients of a cocktail to mix them;
(b) adj. characterized by cocktail-shaking.
1921 2 July 8/1
The ‘Conjuring’ Cocktail Shaker we are now offering make [sic] Cocktail Shaking absolutely easy.
1922 25 mar. 25
Our crap-shooting, cocktail-shaking, gay young people have a keen and fresh champion in Dorothy Speare.
2014 22 Nov. c14
A number of myths have arisen around cocktail shaking involving speed, duration, size of cubes, shaking style and so forth.
cocktail snack n. (usually in plural) a small, typically bite-sized appetizer or snack suitable for eating with cocktails.
1927 11 Dec. 6
For the Christmas table we recommend our nice selection of herring dainties as hors d'oeuvres and cocktail snacks.
1960 19 July 18/2
Cachita's Banana Chips are..the newest cocktail snack in the city delicacy shops.
2006 17 May f1/2
It's just about sunset when the cooks at the Homeplace Ranch lay out a buffet of cocktail snacks on the long ranch-house table.
cocktail stick n. a small pointed stick on which small items of party food, or pieces of garnish for a cocktail, may be served, and which may also be used for other purposes (see e.g. quot. ).Cf. , Rare in North American usage.
1928 22 Mar. 19
Cut the kidneys into thin strips..and roll round them pieces of bacon, using a cocktail stick as a skewer.
1937 ‘M. Innes’ i. 22
A luridly-tinged cherry speared on a cocktail-stick.
2004 Dec. 96/2
Thread the tomato halves, basil leaves, mozzarella cubes (or halved bocconcini balls) and olives onto the cocktail sticks.
cocktail suit n. a semi-formal suit, esp. for women, appropriate for wearing at a cocktail party.
1924 12 June 6/6
‘And then,’ she narrated proudly, ‘Uncle Steve stepped out, all dressed up in a cocktail suit.’
1950 Apr. 1
A slim girl..in a cocktail suit.
2009 23 Nov. 22
Black and white shots of María Dolores de Cospedal in a smart cocktail suit.
cocktail table n. a table on which to place cocktails or other drinks; (in later use usually) (North American) a low table typically placed in front of a sofa or armchair; a coffee table.
1913 11 Dec. 7/2
Oriental tea and cocktail tables with separate trays.
1965 J. M. Cain
Flanking it were two sofas, a cocktail table between.
2001 17 June ix. 3/3
The ‘living room’ has a spare red seating system and metal cocktail tables.
cocktail time n. a time at which cocktails are drunk; spec. the early evening, as a time of day associated with drinking cocktails as a social activity; cf.
1893 5 Oct. 215/1
I can only have my say at you boys for ten minutes at cocktail time, once a week.
1958 J. Betjeman 260
Your lives were good and more secure Than ours at cocktail time in Pinner.
2008 4 July 48/4
At home he would sit at his desk from nine to cocktail time, whether he wrote or not.
cocktail umbrella n.
(a) a stylish umbrella, suitable for use as an accessory at a cocktail party (rare);
(b) a miniature umbrella, typically made from a toothpick and brightly coloured or patterned paper, used to decorate cocktails, desserts, etc.
1950 9 Dec. 133/1
For someone very soignée, a cocktail umbrella in black silk, with a black antelope handle studded with tiny rhinestones.
1971 27 Mar. 9/5
[Ingredients] 1 pint milk 3 marshmallows... A glace cherry 3 cocktail umbrellas (optional).
2010 J. Davis 110
Garnish with pineapple wedges, a maraschino cherry, and a cocktail umbrella.
cocktail waitress n. a waitress who serves cocktails or other drinks in a cocktail bar or similar venue.
1941 29 Mar. 11/1
Woody's Bar and Cocktail Lounge... Staff members include Florence ‘Mickey’ Classi..cocktail waitress..formerly of the Ritz.
1954 27 Mar. 71/3
The pretty cocktail waitresses a-tiptoe in their Western boots.
1975 9 May d2/4
Experienced cocktail waitress needed for an elegant concept restaurant.
2010 K. Price-Glynn i. 25
Working [in a strip club] as a cocktail waitress..I was playing hostess in the ultimate male playground.
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This entry has been updated (OED Third Edition, September 2019).
In this entry:
- My entries(1)
- cocksuck, v.1954
- cocksucker, n.1885
- cocksucking, n.c1890
- cocksucking, adj.1872
- cocksure, adj. and adv.1520
- cock-sure, v.1685
- cocksurely, adv.1887
- cocksureness, n.1878
- cock-surety, n.1819
- cocktail, adj. and n.1750
- cocktail, v.1861
- cock-tail, adv.1600
- cocktailed, adj.11763
- cocktailed, adj.21856
- cocktailian, adj. an...1845
- cocktail party, n.1903
- cocktease, n.1966
- cocktease, v.1957
- cockteaser, n.1891
- cockteasing, n.1958
- cockteasing, adj.1968
- cock-thrappled, adj.1593
- cock-throttled, adj.1720
- cock-throwing, n.1650
- cock treading, n.1573
- cock-up, n.1 and adj.1692
- cockup, n.21718
- cock-water, n.1598
- cockweb, n.a1642
- cockweed, n.1585
- cock-winged, adj.1879
- cocky, n.11680
- cocky, n.21830
- cocky, n.31931
- cocky, adj.1549
- cocky, v.1899
- cockying, n.1895
- cockyolly bird, n.1857
- co-climatary, adj.1652
- coco, n.1555