• cockeyed •
kahk-aid • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective, adverb
Meaning: 1. Having misaligned eyes, cross-eyed or having a cockeye, a squint, eyes that look in different direction. 2. Crooked, askew, awry, not straight or level, as 'a cockeyed grin'. 3. Crazy, absurd, impractical, ridiculous, irrational, as 'a cockeyed optimist'. 4. Drunk.
Notes: Here is a compound adjective we use all the time without thinking about it. I will try to give us something to think about. Believe it or not, this adjective has an active noun, cockeyedness, and adverb, cockeyedly. (My spellchecker doesn't know either one, but the OED gives recent examples.)
In Play: Jean Paul Sartre is probably the most famous person who was cockeyed in the first (original) sense above. The most widely used sense of this word is "crazy": "Sal McGundy came up with the cockeyed idea of an ejection seat in a helicopter." The second sense of this word is used like this: "The portrait of Sal hangs (appropriately) cockeyed on the wall of his study." In western Australia, a cockeyed Bob is a sudden, short cyclone or thunderstorm.
Word History: Today's Good Word is obviously a compound made up of cock (the verb) + eye + -(e)d. The verb cock in the sense of "bend, tilt" is assumed by the Oxford English Dictionary to come from the noun cock, which is of an onomatopoetic (imitative) origin. English borrowed it from Old French cocc "male bird", but we find traces of it in other Indo-European languages: Albanian kokosh, Modern Greek kókoras, Sanskrit kukkuta. The suffix here is the adjective suffix meaning "having", as in forested, three-toed, bearded. (Today's rather amusing Good Word comes from Tony Bowden, our long-time, steadfast contributor in London.)
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