coz·​en ˈkə-zən How to pronounce cozen (audio)
cozened; cozening ˈkəz-niŋ How to pronounce cozen (audio)

transitive verb

: to deceive, win over, or induce to do something by artful coaxing and wheedling or shrewd trickery
: to gain by cozening someone
cozened his supper out of the old couple
ˈkəz-nər How to pronounce cozen (audio)

Did you know?

Cozen is believed to come from the Italian word for a horse trader, cozzone. Horse-trading, as in the actual swapping of horses, usually involved bargaining and compromise—and, in fact, the term horse-trading has come to suggest any shrewd negotiation. It seems safe to assume that not all of these negotiations were entirely on the up-and-up. Given its association with horse traders, it's not too surprising that cozen suggests deception and fraud.

Choose the Right Synonym for cozen

cheat, cozen, defraud, swindle mean to get something by dishonesty or deception.

cheat suggests using trickery that escapes observation.

cheated me out of a dollar

cozen implies artful persuading or flattering to attain a thing or a purpose.

always able to cozen her grandfather out of a few dollars

defraud stresses depriving one of his or her rights and usually connotes deliberate perversion of the truth.

defrauded of her inheritance by an unscrupulous lawyer

swindle implies large-scale cheating by misrepresentation or abuse of confidence.

swindled of their savings by con artists

Examples of cozen in a Sentence

cozened several elderly ladies into believing that he was intending marriage cozened scores of people by persuading them to hand over funds that he would “invest”
Recent Examples on the Web The point, however, is not to entertain the driver/employee but to cozen the owner. Dan Neil, WSJ, 19 Dec. 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'cozen.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


perhaps from obsolete Italian cozzonare, from Italian cozzone horse trader, from Latin cocion-, cocio trader

First Known Use

1573, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of cozen was in 1573


Dictionary Entries Near cozen

Cite this Entry

“Cozen.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


coz·​en ˈkəz-ᵊn How to pronounce cozen (audio)
cozened; cozening ˈkəz-niŋ How to pronounce cozen (audio)
: to deceive by skillful trickery
ˈkəz-nər How to pronounce cozen (audio)
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!