1690s, earlier cully (1660s) "a dupe, a sap-head," "a verdant fellow who is easily deceived, tricked, or imposed on" [Century Dictionary], rogues' slang, of uncertain origin.
Perhaps a shortening of cullion "base fellow," originally "testicle" (from French couillon, from Old French coillon "testicle; worthless fellow, dolt," from Latin coleus, literally "strainer bag;" see cojones). Another theory traces it to Romany (Gypsy) chulai "man." Also sometimes in the form cully, however some authorities assert cully was the canting term for "dupe" and cull was generic "man, fellow" without implication of gullibility. Compare also gullible. Related: Cullibility (1728).
mid-14c., "choose, select, pick; collect and gather the best things from a number or quantity," especially with reference to literature, from Old French cuiler "collect, gather, pluck, select" (12c., Modern French cueillir), from Latin colligere "gather together, collect," originally "choose, select" (see collect).
Meaning "select livestock according to quality" is from 1889; notion of "select and kill (animals)," usually in the name of reducing overpopulation or improving the stock, is from 1934. Related: Culled; culling.
1610s, "a selection, something picked out," from cull (v.). From 1791 as "flock animal selected as inferior;" 1958 as "a killing of animals deemed inferior."
"to take or cull out" a passage in a written or printed work, "select, cite, extract," early 15c. (implied in excerpte), from Latin excerptus, past participle of excerpere "pluck out, pick out, extract," figuratively "choose, select, gather," also "to leave out, omit," from ex "out" (see ex-) + carpere "pluck, gather," from PIE root *kerp- "to gather, pluck, harvest." Related: Excerpted; excerpting.
1620s, "act of selecting," from Latin selectionem (nominative selectio) "a choosing out, choice, selection," noun of action from past-participle stem of seligere "choose out, single out, select; separate, cull" (see select (adj.)). Meaning "thing selected" is from 1805. Biological sense is from 1837; applied to actions of breeders (methodical selection), hence its use by Darwin (natural selection; 1857). French sélection is a 19c. borrowing from English.
"to catch (someone) by a sudden grasp, seize suddenly," 1680s, probably a variant of dialectal nap "to seize, catch, lay hold of" (1670s, now surviving only in kidnap), which possibly is from Scandinavian (compare Norwegian nappe, Swedish nappa "to catch, snatch;" Danish nappe "to pinch, pull"); reinforced by Middle English napand "grasping, greedy." Related: Nabbed; nabbing. Nabbing-cull was old slang for "constable," and Farmer and Henley ("Slang and Its Analogues") has "TO NAB THE STIFLES = to be hanged."
"hug, embrace so as to keep warm; lie close or snug," 1520s (implied in cudlyng), of uncertain origin. OED calls it "A dialectal or nursery word." Perhaps a variant or frequentative form of obsolete cull, coll "to embrace" (see collar (n.)); or perhaps from Middle English *couthelen, from couth "known," hence "comfortable with." It has a spotty early history and seems to have been a nursery word at first. Related: Cuddled; cuddling. As a noun, "a hug, an embrace," by 1825.
surname, c. 1300, in some uses it represents an Englishing of Cologne, the city in Germany. As a surname it can be this or from Cullen, Banffshire.