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Cockamamie

Cockamamie is an informal American word with an interesting origin story. We will examine the definition of the word cockamamie, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

Cockamamie describes something that is ridiculous or implausible. The word cockamamie is derived from a French decorating term, décalcomanie. The word décalcomanie was coined to signify a decorating craze of the mid- to late 1800s that involved the use of transfers, or decals, to decorate furniture and other objects. This method of decoration was Anglicized as decalcomania. In America in the 1920s and 1930s, candy and gum manufacturers gave away ink transfers that could be applied to the skin as a temporary decoration. Children in Brooklyn corrupted the word decalcomania into cockamamie to refer to this ink transfers. Eventually, the word cockamamie came to mean something ridiculous, as these temporary ink transfers surely were.


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Examples

Garcetti’s campaign spokesman, Yusef Robb, fired back Thursday, calling Schwartz’s accusation a “cockamamie conspiracy theory” and blamed the lack of a news conference this year on “scheduling.” (The Los Angeles Daily News)

In a case of too many cooks, as many as five credited scriptwriters have concocted this cockamamie story about the comeuppance of a workaholic business tycoon (Spacey) who is mysteriously transformed into a cat. (The Hindustan Times)

Adviser Investments’ Daniel P. Wiener called the Vanguard small-company fund a “cockamamie mess” following word that the fund has added Arrowpoint Asset Management to run a piece of the fund’s $12.4 billion in assets. (Barron’s Magazine)

“Broken Horses” raises the question of what is cockamamie, and what is cockamamie and outlandish and ridiculous yet a perfectly swell time for those very reasons. (The Chicago Tribune)

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