1730, Scottish, but the sense is "plain bun," and it is debatable whether it is the same word; in the sense of "small, flat, sweet cake" by 1808 (American English); this use is from Dutch koekje "little cake," diminutive of koek "cake," from Middle Dutch koke (see cake (n.)). "Dutch influence is no doubt responsible also for the parallel use of the word in South African English" [Ayto, "Diner's Dictionary"].
Slang application to persons (especially an attractive woman) attested since 1920. Phrase that's the way the cookie crumbles "that's the way things happen" is attested by 1955.
"U.S. soldier," 1864, American English, said to have been in oral use from 1854, or from the Mexican-American War (1847), it is perhaps from resemblance of big buttons on old uniforms to a sort of cookie or biscuit of that name, a boiled dumpling of raised dough (attested from 1680s), but there are other conjectures.
type of cookie (made by Nabisco), 1912; the source of the name has been forgotten. As a derogatory word for "black person felt to have a 'white' mentality," 1968, African-American vernacular, from the snack cookies, which consist of dark chocolate wafers and white sugar cream filling (hence "brown outside, white inside"). Compare radish-communist (1920), one who proclaims enthusiasm for the Party but privately opposes it, on the notion of red outside, white inside.
In reference to devices, the sense of "behaving as though guided by intelligence" (as in smart bomb) first attested 1972. Smarts "good sense, intelligence," is first recorded 1968 (Middle English had ingeny "intellectual capacity, cleverness" (early 15c.)). Smart cookie is from 1948.
mid-14c., from Old English gingifer, gingiber, from Late Latin gingiber, from Latin zingiberi, from Greek zingiberis, from Prakrit (Middle Indic) singabera, from Sanskrit srngaveram, from srngam "horn" + vera- "body," so called from the shape of its root. But this may be Sanskrit folk etymology, and the word may be from an ancient Dravidian word that also produced the Malayalam name for the spice, inchi-ver, from inchi "root."
The word apparently was readopted in Middle English from Old French gingibre (12c., Modern French gingembre). In reference to coloring, by 1785 of fighting cocks, 1885 of persons (gingery with reference to hair is from 1852). Meaning "spirit, spunk, temper" is from 1843, American English (see gin (v.1)). Ginger-ale is recorded by 1822, the term adopted by manufacturers to distinguish their product from ginger beer (1809), which was sometimes fermented. Ginger-snap as a type of hard cookie flavored with ginger is from 1855, American English.
"female intercrural foramen," or, as some 18c. writers refer to it, "the monosyllable," Middle English cunte "female genitalia," by early 14c. (in Hendyng's "Proverbs" — ʒeve þi cunte to cunni[n]g, And crave affetir wedding), akin to Old Norse kunta, Old Frisian, Middle Dutch, and Middle Low German kunte, from Proto-Germanic *kunton, which is of uncertain origin. Some suggest a link with Latin cuneus "wedge" (which is of unknown origin), others to PIE root *geu- "hollow place," still others to PIE root *gwen- "woman."
The form is similar to Latin cunnus "female pudenda" (also, vulgarly, "a woman"), which is likewise of disputed origin, perhaps literally "gash, slit" (from PIE *sker- "to cut") or "sheath" (Watkins, from PIE *(s)keu- "to conceal, hide"). De Vaan rejects this, however, and traces it to "a root *kut-meaning 'bag', 'scrotum', and metaphorically also 'female pudenda,' " source also of Greek kysthos "vagina; buttocks; pouch, small bag" (but Beekes suspects this is a Pre-Greek word), Lithuanian kutys "(money) bag," Old High German hodo "testicles."
Hec vulva: a cunt. Hic cunnus: idem est. [from Londesborough Illustrated Nominale, c. 1500, in "Anglo-Saxon and Old English Vocabularies," eds. Wright and Wülcker, vol. 1, 1884]
First known reference in English apparently is in a compound, Oxford street name Gropecuntlane cited from c. 1230 (and attested through late 14c.) in "Place-Names of Oxfordshire" (Gelling & Stenton, 1953), presumably a haunt of prostitutes. Used in medical writing c. 1400, but avoided in public speech since 15c.; considered obscene since 17c.
in Middle English also conte, counte, and sometimes queinte, queynte (for this, see Q). Chaucer used quaint and queynte in "Canterbury Tales" (late 14c.), and Andrew Marvell might be punning on quaint in "To His Coy Mistress" (1650).
"What eyleth yow to grucche thus and grone? Is it for ye wolde haue my queynte allone?" [Wife of Bath's Tale]
Under "MONOSYLLABLE" Farmer lists 552 synonyms from English slang and literature before launching into another 5 pages of them in French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese. [A sampling: Botany Bay, chum, coffee-shop, cookie, End of the Sentimental Journey, fancy bit, Fumbler's Hall, funniment, goatmilker, heaven, hell, Itching Jenny, jelly-bag, Low Countries, nature's tufted treasure, penwiper, prick-skinner, seminary, tickle-toby, undeniable, wonderful lamp, and aphrodisaical tennis court, and, in a separate listing, Naggie.] Dutch cognate de kont means "a bottom, an arse," but Dutch also has attractive poetic slang ways of expressing this part, such as liefdesgrot, literally "cave of love," and vleesroos "rose of flesh."
Alternative form cunny is attested from c. 1720 but is certainly much earlier and forced a change in the pronunciation of coney (q.v.), but it was good for a pun while coney was still the common word for "rabbit": "A pox upon your Christian cockatrices! They cry, like poulterers' wives, 'No money, no coney.' " [Philip Massinger: "The Virgin-Martyr," Act I, Scene 1, 1622]