Definitions

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

  • noun 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.
  • noun An appetizer made by combining pieces of food, such as fruit or seafood.
  • noun A mixture of drugs, usually in solution, for the diagnosis or treatment of a condition.
  • noun 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.
  • adjective Of or relating to cocktails.
  • adjective Suitable for wear on semiformal occasions.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Cocktail beer.
  • noun A bird of the genus Alectrurus.
  • noun 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).
  • noun A horse which is not thoroughbred, but has some impure blood, generally one fourth or less, but sometimes one half; hence, an underbred person.
  • noun An American drink, strong, stimulating, and cold, made of spirits, bitters, and a little sugar, with various aromatic and stimulating additions.

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

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

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

Etymologies

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

[Origin unknown.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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.

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