And the egoist cries cock-a-doodle-doo

Cockalorum: noun, meaning one who’s full of boastful talk or self-importance.

Shockingly, the origin of this word is actually onomatopoetic, having nothing — though my inner feminist is smirking — to do with phallic references at all. In fact, it comes from an early-1700’s dutch word, kockeloeren, which means to crow. I suppose that’s an easy enough leap to make. Supposedly, the word cocky (and all our slightly more foul counterparts) stems from a similar, but different source, which is to say Cocc, an Old English word used in the middle ages as a nickname for boys who strutted around like roosters. I daresay, whatever Dutch person coined the former word, must have spent some time in England.


I’ve been thinking a lot about ego lately — a wise man once told me that being a writer is straddling the fine line between ego and humility. It’s something I’ve been learning how to handle over the last few years, mitigating my pride and confidence in my work, while also being able to take ego-piercing criticism, absorb it, and let it inform my future writing. And all that’s great on a personal level, but it seems to me that we, as Americans, aren’t doing so well at this same game. When are we going to give up being cockalorums about our economy? When are we going to stop pointing fingers at the banks and Wall Street and the government and and cast our shameful gaze at what we’ve done – what we’ve created from our greed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m angry as hell and ready to tackle anyone with a bonus in their pocket. I’m not innocent either; I’m just requesting we open this discussion up in a more direct way. It’s not about the banks spending money, it’s about all of us paying back our debt.
So, I’ll leave you with 2 This American Life links, both of which are awesome and highly pertinent to this post.

First, the recent Bad Banks, which was uber-helpful in helping me work through my questions about what’s going on in the economy right now. Seriously Amazing – even Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is down with how great this show is.

And second, Poultry Slam 2008, which is one of my favorite episodes involving lots of stories you’ve probably heard me re-tell. They’re that good. In one of them God is a Chicken. Go.


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Categories: etymology, media, Ponderings | Leave a comment

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