Definitions

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

  • n. Any of various mixed alcoholic drinks consisting usually of brandy, whiskey, vodka, or gin combined with fruit juices or other liquors and often served chilled.
  • n. Medicine A mixture of drugs, usually in solution, for the diagnosis or treatment of a condition.
  • n. Medicine A treatment regimen that includes a combination of several drugs, so that their combined effect is more potent than that of any of the drugs used individually.
  • n. An appetizer made by combining pieces of food, such as fruit or seafood: fruit cocktail; shrimp cocktail.
  • adj. Of or relating to cocktails: a cocktail glass; a cocktail party.
  • adj. Suitable for wear on semiformal occasions: a cocktail dress.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A mixed alcoholic beverage.
  • n. A mixture of other substances.
  • n. A horse, not of pure breed, but having only one eighth or one sixteenth impure blood in its veins.
  • n. A mean, half-hearted fellow; a coward.
  • n. A species of rove beetle, so called from its habit of elevating the tail.
  • adj. festive, lively

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A beverage made of brandy, whisky, or gin, iced, flavored, and sweetened.
  • n. A horse, not of pure breed, but having only one eighth or one sixteenth impure blood in his veins.
  • n. A mean, half-hearted fellow; a coward.
  • n. A species of rove beetle; -- so called from its habit of elevating the tail.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A bird of the genus Alectrurus.
  • n. A name of a European insect, Ocypus or Goërius olens, one of the rove-beetles or Staphylinidæ. Also called devil's coach-horse (which see, under devil).
  • n. A horse which is not thoroughbred, but has some impure blood, generally one fourth or less, but sometimes one half; hence, an underbred person.
  • n. An American drink, strong, stimulating, and cold, made of spirits, bitters, and a little sugar, with various aromatic and stimulating additions.
  • n. Cocktail beer.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a short mixed drink
  • n. an appetizer served as a first course at a meal

Etymologies

Origin unknown.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Unknown, many unproven stories exist. The word first appeared in 1806 (see citation below). The non-drink sense is by extension of the drink sense. (Wiktionary)

Examples

Comments

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  • Origin first attested 1806; H.L. Mencken lists seven versions of its origin, perhaps the most persuasive is Fr. coquetier "egg-cup." In New Orleans, c.1795, Antoine Amédée Peychaud, an apothecary (and inventor of Peychaud bitters) held Masonic social gatherings at his pharmacy, where he mixed brandy toddies with his own bitters and served them in an egg-cup. The drink took the name of the cup, in Eng. cocktay. Cocktail party first attested 1928.

    January 1, 2008