Meanings “Cob”

There is perhaps no monosyllable in any language that has so many distinct meanings as cob. It may be thought curious to enumerate them. As a VERB, it signifies, 1, to strike; 2, to pull the ear or hair; 3, to throw; and 4, to outdo. As a noun, it stands for-5, a seed-basket; 6, the material of mud walls; 7, a hay-stack of small dimensions; 8, clover seed; 9, an Hiberno-Spanish coin; 10, a lump or piece; 11, a sea-gull; 12, the fish called the miller’s thumb; 13, a harbour, as the Cobb of Lyme-Regis; 14, a young herring; 15, a leader or chief; 16, a wealthy or influential person; 17, a small horse; 18, a spider (whence cob-web); 19, the bird called a shoveller.

That’s from Forebears, a website devoted to tracking down the origins of family and place names.

H/T Language Log

About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
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