Advertisement

Cock and bull story

  • The idiom a cock and bull story seems to date back to the early 1600s, though its origin is in dispute. An idiom is a figure of speech that is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. We will examine the meaning of the expression cock and bull story, where it is purported to have come from and some examples of its use in sentences.


     

    A cock and bull story is a tale that is unbelievable, one that is ridiculous as it is far-fetched or implausible. The expression cock and bull story dates to the early 1600s, and there are many opinions as to where it came from. One story credits two coaching inns that were located in Stony Stratford, one named The Cock and one named The Bull. Guests would supposedly banter back and forth between the two inns, telling ever more outrageous stories. There does not seem to be much truth in this etymological theory. A more plausible origin is a French expression, coq-a-l’âne, which is defined as a garbled story that is passed from one party to another. Literally, coq-a-l’âne translates as rooster to jackass. For some reason, the latter animal changed from a jackass to a bull in English usage. Finally, some believe that the term cock and bull story referred to an actual genre of stories starring roosters and bulls, which are now lost. The plural form of cock and bull story is cock and bull stories.

    Advertisement

    Examples

    “The agency is feeding the media with a cock and bull story about Karti laundering money through a ‘neta’ (political leader).” (The Times of India)

    Philomena Chieshe, a female cashier at the Makurdi office of Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, told auditors who asked her to account for the 36 million naira she had collected from sales of scratch cards a self-exculpatory cock and bull story that harks back to Eve scapegoating the serpent in the Garden of Eden. (The Sahara Reporters)

    “I have to reflect on why you did this and you have never said why, denying it at trial and making up what is frankly a cock and bull story which both the jury and I rejected.” (The Derby Telegraph)


    About Grammarist
    Contact | Privacy policy | Home
    © Copyright 2009-2014 Grammarist