from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A corncob.
  • noun A male swan.
  • noun A thickset, stocky, short-legged horse.
  • noun A small lump or mass, as of coal.
  • noun A mixture of clay and straw used as a building material.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A kind of wicker basket made to be carried on the arm; specifically, one used for carrying seed while sowing.
  • noun A roundish lump.
  • noun A small haystack; a haycock.
  • noun An ear of wheat. See cob-poke.
  • noun The cylindrical shoot or receptacle, in the form of a spike, on which the grains of maize or Indian corn grow in rows; a corn-cob (which see).
  • noun A young herring.
  • noun A fish, the bullhead or miller's-thumb.
  • noun The common clam, Mya arenaria.
  • noun A Spanish dollar: a name formerly in use in Ireland, and still at Gibraltar.
  • noun A compost of puddled clay and straw, or of straw, lime, and earth.
  • noun In coal-mining, a small solid pillar of coal left in a waste as a support for the roof.
  • noun Clover-seed.
  • noun The top; the head; the poll.
  • noun A head man; a prominent or chief person; a leader or chief.
  • noun A wealthy man; especially, one who makes a vulgar use or display of his wealth; a rich and vulgar man; a chuff.
  • noun A strong, thick-set, pony-built horse, capable of carrying a heavy weight at a good pace. Also cob-horse.
  • noun . In pharm., a cylindrical mass of crystals of lactose (sugar of milk) formed upon a stick or cord.
  • noun Tn horticulture, a kind of filbert characterized by a short rounded nut borne in short open husks. The longer nuts, in long husks, are known as true filberts.
  • noun Any of the larger gulls, but more particularly the black-backed gull, Larus marinus.
  • noun A blow on the buttocks with the knee, or with a strap or board; a punishment consisting of such blows. Also spelled cobb.
  • noun The great black-backed gull, Larus marinus. Also spelled cobb.
  • noun A sort of short breakwater.
  • noun In the United States the standard for a cob is some what larger than in England, a typical cob standing about 15 hands high and weighing from 1,000 to 1,050 pounds. A cob is smoother and more compact than a coacher and has shorter legs.
  • noun Same as cobswan.
  • To strike; knock; beat on the buttocks with the knee, or with a board or strap.
  • In mining, to break (ore) into small fragments with a hammer, in the process of dressing it for the smelter.
  • To excel; outdo; beat.
  • To throw.
  • To fight.
  • Also spelled cobb.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun obsolete The top or head of anything.
  • noun obsolete A leader or chief; a conspicuous person, esp. a rich covetous person.
  • noun United States The axis on which the kernels of maize or indian corn grow.
  • noun (Zoöl.) A spider; perhaps from its shape; it being round like a head.
  • noun (Zoöl.) A young herring.
  • noun (Zoöl.) A fish; -- also called miller's thumb.
  • noun engraving A short-legged and stout horse, esp. one used for the saddle.
  • noun (Zoöl.) A sea mew or gull; esp., the black-backed gull (Larus marinus).
  • noun A lump or piece of anything, usually of a somewhat large size, as of coal, or stone.
  • noun engraving A cobnut. See Cobnut.
  • noun Prov. Eng. Clay mixed with straw.
  • noun A punishment consisting of blows inflictod on tho buttocas with a strap or a flat piece of wood.
  • noun obsolete A Spanish coin formerly current in Ireland, worth abiut 4s. 6d.
  • noun coal in rounded lumps from the size of an egg to that of a football; -- called also cobbles.
  • noun a crusty, uneven loaf, rounded at top.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Probably from obsolete cob, round object, head, testicle.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Uncertain. Possibly onomatopoeic, but it has also been suggested that the word could be a continuation of Middle English cobbe ("fight"), a borrowing of Welsh cob ("blow"), or a cognate of Icelandic kubba ("chop").

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Uncertain. The word has many disparate senses, which are likely of diverse origin. The specifics of these origins have long been debated, as has the question of which senses arise from which origins. At least some senses likely originated as a variant of cop ("head"). In other senses, the word may be related to cub, itself of obscure origin but possibly from Old Norse kobbi ("seal"). However, many alternative etymologies have been proposed to account for some or all senses of cob; various sources have related it, for example, to English cot ("cottage"), Welsh cob ("top, tuft"), or German Kübel ("large container"). All these etymologies are disputed, and the exact origins of cob cannot be known with any certainty.


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  • "My eyes, I know, shone divinely as I watched Captain Slogger Dennehy of the Inniskillings win the final chukkar on his darling cob Centaur."

    Joyce, Ulysses, 15

    February 8, 2007

  • From By Hook or By Crook by David Crystal: "Cob – or cobb, as it is sometimes spelled – is a curious word. It has a remarkable range of senses, some dating back to the fifteenth century. At one time or another it has referred to a well-built man, a type of gull, a herring, a male swan, a stout horse, and a spider (think of cobweb). Small haystacks, loaves of bread, certain types of nut, the tops of maize shoots, and even testicles have also been called cobs, as have Spanish dollars (the famous 'pieces of eight'), lumps of building material for walls, and small rounded stones for roadways, more commonly called cobble stones." (p 36)

    And: "To give someone a cob can mean to hit them. To have a cob on is to be in a bad mood. To get a cob on is to become sulky." (p 37)

    December 15, 2008

  • In business: close of business (day).

    April 8, 2009

  • cob as in round bread roll. A roll or barm etc elsewhere in the country.

    February 26, 2010