cock·​a·​ma·​mie ˌkä-kə-ˈmā-mē How to pronounce cockamamie (audio)
variants or less commonly cockamamy
: ridiculous, incredible
some cockamamie idea/story
of all the cockamamy excuses I ever heardLeo Rosten

Did you know?

By the look and sound of it, cockamamie (also spelled "cockamamy") could have something to do with a rooster and the outrageous sound it makes. But in fact, cockamamie is believed to be an altered form of the term decalcomania, which refers to the process, invented in the mid-19th century, of transferring pictures and designs from specially prepared paper to surfaces such as glass or porcelain. (The word referring to the picture or design itself, decal, is a shortening of decalcomania.) The word decalcomania comes from French, with décalcomanie combining the verb décalquer, meaning "to trace" or "to transfer by tracing," and -manie, meaning "-mania." Starting in the 1930s, painted strips of paper with images capable of being transferred to the skin were called decals or—in children's slang—cockamamies. Those familiar with today's temporary tattoos will understand quickly that these were regarded by many as silly novelties, lending the word cockamamie the necessary leeway for application to anything ridiculous.

Word History


perhaps alteration of decalcomania

First Known Use

1962, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of cockamamie was in 1962


Dictionary Entries Near cockamamie

Cite this Entry

“Cockamamie.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Feb. 2024.

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