"clasp, button, etc. used to secure the cock of a hat," hence "any knot or badge worn on a hat," especially as a sign of political adherence, 1709, earlier cockard (1650s), from French cocarde (16c.), fem. of cocard (Old French cocart) "foolishly proud, cocky," as a noun, "idiot, fool;" an allusive extension from coq (see cock (n.1)).
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