Pronunciation Noun


  1. A male swan.
    • 1664, John Witherings, "The Orders, Laws, and Ancient Customs of Swans", in The Harleian Miscellany, volume VII (1810), page 292 ↗:
      In all common streams, and private waters, when cygnets are taken up, the owner of the cob must chuse the first cygnet, and the pen the next, and so in order….
    • 1970, E. B. White, The Trumpet of the Swan, HarperCollins (2000), ISBN 0-06-028935-X, page 22:
      The cob waddled out onto the island and looked in the nest.
    • 2008, Nicole Helget, Swans, Creative Education, ISBN 978-1-58341-659-4, page 22:
      The cob will defend the nest and the eggs.
  2. A corncob.
    • 1818, William Cobbett, A Year’s Residence in the United States of America, part I, Clayton and Kingsland, page 18 ↗:
      The grains, each of which is about the bulk of the largest marrowfat pea, are placed all round a stalk, which goes up the middle, and this little stalk, to which the seeds adhere, is called the Corn Cob.
    • 1849, Charles Lyell, A Second Visit to the United States of North America, volume II, Harper & Brothers, page 64 ↗:
      I passed some mills in which the grain, cob, and husk were all ground up together for the cattle and hogs….
    • 1994, Douglas Coupland, Life After God, Washington Square Press, ISBN 0-671-87434-9, page 80:
      Dad had placed a cob of corn on a stump for the jays, who bickered over it non-stop.
  3. (Midlands) A round, often crusty roll or loaf of bread.
    • 1877, Mackenzie E. C. Walcott, The Early Statutes of the Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity, Chichester, J. B. Nichols and Sons, page 38 ↗:
      The cob was a cracknel or simnel made of fine flour.
    • 1958, Brendan Behan, Borstal Boy, Nonpareil (1982), ISBN 1-56792-105-1, page 86:
      …I sat there and broke the crust of my cob of bread.
    • 2005, Sheila Dunwell, "Progress or Less", in Poetry—Love It, Hate It, Read It and See, AuthorHouse, ISBN 1-4208-5247-7, page 85:
      I want to do a manual job / Even bake a lovely bread cob
  4. Clipping of cobnut#English|cobnut.
    • 1868, Charles Darwin, The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, volume I, John Murray, page 357 ↗:
      This kind of husk also protects the nut from birds, for titmice (Parus) have been observed to pass over filberts, and attack cobs and common nuts growing in the same orchard.
    • 1979, Jocasta Innes, The Country Kitchen, Frances Lincoln Limited (2003), ISBN 0-7112-2261-4, page 257:
      Pickled walnuts are excellent if you can get hold of green walnuts, but other green nuts – hazel, cob, filbert – can be used instead.
    • 2009, Carleen Madigan (ed.), The Essential Guide to Back Garden Self-Sufficiency, Timber Press (2010), page 145:
      The nuts of the filbert are slightly longer and narrower than the cob.
  5. (uncountable) A building material consisting of clay, sand, straw, water, and earth, similar to adobe; also called cobb, rammed earth or pisé.
    • 1602, Richard Carew, The Svrvey of Cornwall, new edition (1769), page 53 ↗:
      The poore Cotager contenteth himſelfe with Cob for his wals, and Thatch for his couering….
    • 1889, T. N. Brushfield, "The Birthplace of Sir Walter Raleigh", in Reports and Transactions of the Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, Literature, and Art, volume XXI, W. Brendon & Son, page 323 ↗
      The walls are of cob, the external ones being about 2 feet 8 inches thick, and rest on a stone foundation.
    • 2007 October 6, Cecelia Goodnow, "Thinking of Building a Cob Home?", The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page E8:
      cob falls outside the building code, so planners would want documentation of how the adobelike material performs.
  6. A horse having a stout body and short legs.
    • 1828, Winthrop Mackworth Praed, "A Letter of Advice", in The New Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal, volume 23, part II, S. and H. Bentley, page 543 ↗:
      If he comes to you riding a cob
    • 1841, Charles Dickens, Barnaby Rudge, in Master Humphrey’s Clock, volume II, Chapman and Hall, page 289 ↗:
      He was well-mounted upon a sturdy chestnut cob, and had the graceful seat of an experienced horseman….
    • 2012, Philippa Gregory, Changeling, Simon Pulse, ISBN 978-1-4424-5344-9, page 36:
      Freize rode a strong cob and led a donkey laden with their belongings.
  7. (East Anglia) A gull, especially the black-backed gull (Larus marinus); also spelled cobb.
    • 1668, Thomas Browne, "Notes on Certain Birds Found in Norfolk", in Notes and Letters on the Natural History of Norfolk ↗, Jarrold & Sons (1902), pages 8–9 ↗:
      Here is also the pica marina or seapye many sorts of Lari, seamewes & cobs.
    • 1820, Sir Richard Phillips and Co. (tr.), Travels in Brazil (in New Voyages and Travels, volume III), translation of Prince Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied, Reise nach Brasilien (1817), page 21 ↗:
      We found here a species of cob, with a grey head, red beak and feet, very much resembling our larus ribibundus….
    • 1895, A Son of the Marshes [Denham Jordan], The Wild-Fowl and Sea-Fowl of Great Britain, Chapman and Hall, page 312 ↗:
      The Raven has a very ancient look about him, as if he could tell a lot if he thought proper, but the Cob looks weird and uncanny, as if he was continually thinking over the creatures that he had seen go down to Davy’s locker.
  8. Any of the gold and silver coins that were minted in the Spanish Empire and valued in reales or escudos, such as the piece of eight—especially those which were crudely struck and irregularly shaped.
    • 1701, Daniel Mac-Cay, testimony in the trial of Patrick Hurly, transcribed in A Complete Collection of State-Trials, and Proceedings upon High-Treason, and Other Crimes and Misdemeanours, volume 5, 2nd edition (1730), page 404 ↗:
      …he put his Hand in his Pocket and pull’d out ſome Gold, ſome Broadpieces and a Gold Cob….
    • 1784, Thomas Sheridan, The Life of the Rev. Dr. Jonathan Swift, Dean of St. Patrick’s, Dublin, volume I, pages 7–8 ↗:
      He then drew out a large leathern bag, and poured out the contents, which were ſilver cobs, upon the table.
    • 2006, Todd Cook, The Lost Coins of Early Americans: Still A Secret!, Xulon Press, ISBN 1-60034-429-1, page 90:
      It’s absolutely possible to find an affordable ($20-$35) low to average circulated Spanish silver cob dated around or before 1692, especially if you’re willing to settle for the smaller half real or one real cobs.
    • 2008, Alvin Rabushka, Taxation in Colonial America, Princeton University Press, ISBN 978-0-691-13345-4, page 154:
      Cobs were usually irregularly shaped. They were a means to account for a specific amount of silver in a coin that could be used for commerce.
  9. A Spanish coin formerly current in Ireland, worth about four shillings and sixpence.
  10. (obsolete) One who is eminent, great, large, or rich.
    • 1583, Richard Stanyhurst (tr.), The First Fovre Bookes of Virgils Æneis, Henrie Bynneman, page 86 ↗:
      I ſaw fleſh bluddie toe ſlauer, / When the cob had maunged the gobets foule garbaged haulfe quick.
    • 1583, Phillip Stubbes, The Second Part of the Anatomie of Abuses, N. Trübner & Co. (1882), page 27 ↗:
      But I would not haue a few rich cobs to get into their clowches almoſt whole countries, ſo as the poore can haue no releefe by them.
    • 1827, anonymous angler quoted in William Hone, The Every-Day Book, volume II, part II, Hunt and Clarke, page 769 ↗:
      For fishing and shuting, he was the cob of all this country!
  11. A spider.
  12. A small fish, the miller's thumb.
  13. A large fish, especially the kabeljou (variant spelling of kob).
  14. (obsolete) The head of a herring.
    • 1598, Ben Jonson, Every Man in His Humour, in The Modern British Drama, 3rd volume, James Ballantyne and Co. (1811), page 5 ↗:
      The first red herring that was broil’d in Adam and Eve’s kitchen, do I fetch my pedigree from, by the Harrot’s book. His Cob was my great-great-mighty-great grandfather.
    • 1599, Thomas Nashe, Lenten Stuffe, in The Harleian Miscellany, volume VI (1745), page 156 ↗:
      …not a Scrap of him, but the Cobs of the two Herrings, the Fiſhermen had eaten, remained of him….
    • 1605, Thomas Dekker, The Honest Whore, in The Dramatic Works of Thomas Dekker, 2nd volume, John Pearson (1873), page 147 ↗:
      …he can come bragging hither with foure white Herrings (at’s taile) in blue Coates without roes in their bellies, but I may ſtarue ere he giue me ſo much as a cob.
  15. The top or head of anything.
  16. A lump or piece of anything, usually of a somewhat large size, as of coal, or stone.
  17. A punishment consisting of blows inflicted on the buttocks with a strap or a flat piece of wood.
  18. (music, historical) A cylinder with pins in it, encoding music to be played back mechanically by a barrel organ.
  19. (dated or historical) A person of mixed black and white ancestry, especially a griffe; a mulatto.
    • 1885, Stanley Harris, The Coaching Age, London, R. Bentley and son, page 237:
      […] but he does not say whether the nobleman is a mulatto or half-caste, or what advantage is to be derived from purchasing a cob belonging to "a dark-brown nobleman."
    • 1902, Bulletin of the American Geographical Society, page 214:
      The young mother was darker than either of her parents, and might be taken for a cob (the offspring of a mulatto and a negro), but the baby looked to be almost pure Indian.
    • 1912, James Rodway, Guiana: British, Dutch, and French, page 190:
      A cob is a reversion towards the negro, the child of one black parent with a mulatto, three-quarters black and hardly distinguishable. The mustee or quadroon, who is three-fourths white, and the costee or octoroon may be considered […]
Translations Translations Verb

cob (cobs, present participle cobbing; past and past participle cobbed)

  1. To construct using mud blocks or to seal a wall using mud or an artificial equivalent.
    • 2004, Joe Kennedy, Building Without Borders: Sustainable Construction for the Global Village, page 178, ISBN 0865714819.
      Windows and other details can be cobbed into place, and niches and reliefs are easy to create.
    • 2009, Marian Keeler, Bill Burke, Fundamentals of Integrated Design for Sustainable Building, page 304, ISBN 0470152931.
      The technique appeals to alternative builders because of its ability to be sculpted, its use of waste materials, and its pest resistant properties. Each course is tamped down, or "cobbed," to impart strength and to aid in curing.
    • 2011, Gordon Salberg, "Paper houses: papercrete and fidobe", in The Art of Natural Building, page 174, ISBN 0865714339.
      And there is another alternative: both papercrete and fidobe can be cobbed.
  2. Of growing corn, to have the heads mature into corncobs.

cob (cobs, present participle cobbing; past and past participle cobbed)

  1. To beat with a flat instrument; to paddle.
    • 1803, Andrew Mitchell, "Extract from the Trial of the Mutineers on board the Bantry Bay Squadron", The Annual Register, volume XLIV, R. Wilks, page 556 ↗:
      […] he pulled off his hat, and said he was going to cob him for breaking the rules and laws of the ship’s company.
    • 1863, Susan Boggs, interview transcribed in Slave Testimony: Two Centuries of Letters, Speeches, Interviews, and Autobiographies, ed. John Wesley Blassingame, Louisiana State University Press (1977), ISBN 0-8071-0184-2, page 419:
      […] this jail keeper took a piece of board with holes bored through it (what you call a paddle) and cobbed him and cobbed him, and, then they took salt and washed him.
    • 2007, Darius Rejali, Torture and Democracy, Princeton University Press, ISBN 978-0-691-11422-4, page 272:
      British officers cobbed infantrymen for petty offenses, and Irish schoolchildren were paddled for failing to remove their hats, becoming the first of many schoolchildren to be cobbed.
  2. (Northern UK, possibly colloquial) To throw, chuck, lob.
    • 1862, Philip Gilbert Hamerton (quoting a Lancashire shepherd), A Painter’s Camp in the Highlands, volume I, Macmillan and Co., page 69 ↗:
      Well, sir, I’m sure I’d be rid of it fast enough if I could naut cob it away like a stoan.
    • 1878, Robert Richardson, "How the Fight was Stopped", in The Young Cragsman, And Other Stories, William Oliphant and Co., page 72 ↗:
      Each had a stone in his grasp in an instant, and simultaneously they cobbed at Master Bunnie.
    • 1895, John Trafford Clegg, "James Leach", in The Works of John Trafford Clegg, James Clegg, page 287 ↗:
      Iv not, aw’ll cob mi fleawers i’ th’ fire, brun mi love wi ’em, turn mi back on thee once an’ for ever, an’ lev thee to get a betther husbant wi two white e’en, iv tha con find one.
    • 2004, "Ross Howard" (username), "Re: Fox News on Terrorism ↗", in alt.usage.english, Usenet:
      Although, wait -- best avoid rocks. Terrorists are known to cob them at the democratic forces of law and order in the free world.
  3. To chip off unwanted pieces of stone, so as to form a desired shape or improve the quality of mineral ore.
    • 1778, William Pryce, Mineralogia Cornubiensis, James Phillips, page 327 ↗:
      A ſhade or ſhelter from the weather, under which the Cobbers cob the Ore.
    • 1894, A. G. Charleton, "The Choice of Coarse and Fine-Crushing Machinery and Processes of Ore Treatment", part IV, in Transactions of the Federated Institution of Mining Engineers, volume VI (M. Walton Brown, ed.), Andrew Reid, Sons & Co., page 95 ↗:
      […] it is not less ridiculous for instance to place a man, who may be perhaps an adept at spalling stones, in charge of a mill at the salary of a first-class foreman, than it would be to put the latter to cob ore at the wage of a labourer.
    • 1961, John Calvin Reed, Geology of the Mount McKinley quadrangle, Alaska, page 13, OCLC 2834784 ↗.
      For this reason medium-grained granite is most adaptable, if it may be split and cobbed readily along rift and grain directions.
    • 2004, Lynne Mayers, Balmaidens, The Hypatia Trust, ISBN 1-872229-48-4, page 28:
      It was not unusual for the older girls to stay on after 5 p.m. for another two hours or so, to buck or cob an extra one or two barrows.
    • 2009, Kenneth A. Walsh, Beryllium Chemistry and Processing, page 25, ISBN 0871707217.
      Capacity is also available for the export of an additional 1000 metric tons of cobbed beryl per year.
    • 2011, Patricia Mercier, Crystal Skulls & the Enigma of Time, Appendix 2, ISBN 178028005X.
      A more likely explanation is that ancient crystal skull carvers first chipped (cobbed) piecees off a block of material that was destined to be shaped into a skull.
  1. Abbreviation of cobble#English|cobble.
    • 1994, Anna M. Hill & David M. Lodge, "Diel Changes in Resource Demand: Competition and Predation in Species Replacement among Crayfishes", Ecology, volume 75, page 2122:
      Habitats were sand, cobble (cob), sand with macrophytes (s\m) and muck with macrophytes (m\m).
    • 2002, Christian Vogt & Wolfhard Symader, "Evaluation of Small Rivers by Combining Biological Sampling with a Structure Analysis of River Beds", in Fiona J. Dyer, Martin C. Thomas, & Jon M. Olley (eds.), The Structure, Function and Management Implications of Fluvial Sedimentary Systems, International Association of Hydrological Sciences, ISBN 1-901502-96-1, page 71:
      List and short characteristics of sampling sites (br = bedrock, cob = cobble, gra = gravel, peb = pebble, sa = sand).
    • 2008, Cécile Claret & Andrew J. Boulton, "Integrating Hydraulic Conductivity with Biogeochemical Gradients and Microbial Activity along River–Groundwater Exchange Zones in a Subtropical Stream", Hydrogeology Journal, volume 17, page 153:
      Surface substrate is expressed as the dominant particles (cob cobble, peb pebble, boul boulder)….
  2. Alternative form of COB


cob (plural cobs)

  1. (US, military) Initialism of contingency operating base
  2. (military) Acronym of chief of boat
  3. Close of Business, usually referring to a deadline for an office in another time zone.
    NY office told the LA office to have report e-mailed by COB.
  4. Coordination of Benefits
  5. Chairman of the Board
  6. Chip on Board
Related terms
  • (contingency operating base) FOB forward operating base
Proper noun
  1. Clive's Original Band, band started by Clive Palmer (musician) after he left The Incredible String Band.
  2. (sports) Abbreviation of Cobourg#English|Cobourg.

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