• cosset •
kaw-sit • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, verb
Meaning: 1. (Noun) A lamb raised by hand, a pet lamb. 2. (Verb) To treat as a cosset, fondle, caress, pet, spoil. 3. (Verb) Indulge with flattery, servile behavior, do anything to make someone happy.
Notes: This word is probably written more than it is spoken, but it is such a lovely word that it should appear more in conversation. It has one derivational relative, cossety, meaning "fond of being cosseted".
In Play: Today's contributor writes, "[This word] came to my mind yesterday while watching a baby gray seal being cosseted by the gentle flipper of its bulky mum." However, there is a figurative sense (3. above) that is widely used: "Nothing cossets Ann Chovee more than a pizza with all the toppings."
Word History: In Old English today's word was cot-sæta "cot-sitter, cottage dweller". This is consistent with the Domesday forms, plural coscez, cozets, cozez (Z = [ts]). This could have referred to a lamb raised by hand and living in a cottage. This interpretation is in keeping with German Hauslamm "house-lamb, pet lamb". There is, however, a long gap between the coscez of Domesday (1086) and the cosset of 1579, during which no trace of the word in either sense has been found. (I don't think it would be cosseting Eileen Opiolka to thank her for sharing today's lovely Good Word with us.)
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