"native or permanent resident of London," specifically the City of London, more precisely one born or living "within the sound of Bow-Bell" (see Bow bells); c. 1600, usually said to be from Middle English cokenei, cokeney "spoiled child, milksop" (late 14c.), originally cokene-ey "cock's egg" (mid-14c.). The most likely disentangling of the etymology is to start from Old English cocena "cock's egg" -- genitive plural of coc "cock" + æg "egg" -- medieval term for "runt of a clutch" (as though "egg laid by a cock"), extended derisively c. 1520s to "town dweller," gradually narrowing thereafter to residents of a particular neighborhood in the East End of London. Liberman, however, disagrees:
Cockney, 'cock's egg,' a rare and seemingly obsolete word in Middle English, was, in all likelihood, not the etymon of ME cokeney 'milksop, simpleton; effeminate man; Londoner,' which is rather a reshaping of [Old French] acoquiné 'spoiled' (participle). However, this derivation poses some phonetic problems that have not been resolved.
The characteristic accent so called from 1890, but the speech peculiarities were noted from 17c. As an adjective in this sense, from 1630s. Related: Cockneydom; Cockneyish.
to be "born within the sound of Bow Bells" is the traditional (since early 17c.) definition of a Cockney; the reference is to the bells of the church of St. Mary-le-Bow in London's Cheapside district. A church or chapel probably stood there in Anglo-Saxon times, and was rebuilt many times; the bells were noted for their sound from 16c., and a great tenor bell hung there from 1762 to 1941, when the church was most recently destroyed, in a German air raid. The church is so called for the arches which were a notable feature in the medieval building from 12c., hence it is from bow (n.1).
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "bird." It also might be the source of *woyo, *oyyo, Proto-Indo-European words for "egg."
It forms all or part of: auspex; auspices; auspicious; avian; aviary; aviation; aviator; avicide; aviculture; aviform; caviar; cockney; egg (n.); ocarina; oo-; oocyte; oolite; oology; osprey; ostrich; oval; ovary; ovate (adj.); oviform; oviparous; ovoviviparous; ovoid; ovulate; ovulation; ovule; ovum.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit vih, Avestan vish, Latin avis "bird;" Greek aietos "eagle;" Old Church Slavonic aja, Russian jajco, Breton ui, Welsh wy, Greek ōon, Latin ovum, Old Norse egg, Old High German ei, Gothic ada all meaning "egg."
1969, Cockney pronunciation of bother "trouble" (q.v.), given wide extended usage in skinhead slang.
colloquial "good-bye" word, 1904, said in early uses to be "cockney," of unknown origin; variant tooraloo is recorded from c. 1921.
"inhabitant of a city," colloquial shortening of citizen, 1640s; especially "a London cockney," as contrasted to a country man or a gentleman, usually with some measure of opprobrium (Johnson defines it as "A pert low townsman; a pragmatical trader").
also tata, "good-bye," familiar salutation in parting, 1823, a word first recorded as infant's speech. Abbreviation T.T.F.N., "ta-ta for now," popularized 1941 by BBC radio program "ITMA," where it was the characteristic parting of the cockney cleaning woman character Mrs. Mopp, voiced by Dorothy Summers.
"hands," 1874, now mainly in put up your dukes (phrase from 1859), probably not connected to duke (n.). Chapman ["Dictionary of American Slang"] suggests Romany dook "the hand as read in palmistry, one's fate;" but Partridge ["Slang To-day and Yesterday"] gives it a plausible, if elaborate, etymology as a contraction of Duke of Yorks, rhyming slang for forks, a Cockney term for "fingers," thus, by extension, "hands."
used metonymically for "Church of England, Archbishop of Canterbury," 1859, from the archbishop's palace in Lambeth, a South London borough. The place name is Old English lambehyðe, "place where lambs are embarked or landed." In church history, the Lambeth Articles were doctrinal statements written in 1595 by Archbishop of Canterbury John Whitgift. The Lambeth Walk was a Cockney song and dance, popularized in Britain 1937 in the revue "Me and my Gal," named for a street in the borough.