The Other “C-Word”
This whole silly episode reminded me of the other “c-word.” Cock is one of those intriguing words in the English language that, depending on the context in which it’s used, can be considered either acceptable or obscene. A quick check of any dictionary reveals that cock has many definitions.
Cock frequently crops up in the vernacular of birders, ornithologists, and wildlife biologists when referring to a male bird, especially one of the gallinaceous variety. For example, make reference to a cock pheasant in mixed company and no one is likely to raise an eyebrow. Cock also appears in the common English names of a few species (e.g., cocks-of-the-rock, snowcocks, and woodcocks).
There are many other acceptable uses of cock, such as ballcock, cockpit, cocksure, cocktail, cock-and-bull, cock-eyed, poppycock, and shuttlecock, to name but a few, and (most incredibly) as a surname.
Cock is also a slang term for penis, of course, a usage which is considered an obscenity never to be used in polite company. Thus, unlike that other unsavory “c-word,” cock is a word that can be socially acceptable or obscene, depending strictly on usage and context. Strange, eh?