verb coz·en \ ˈkə-zən \

Definition of cozen

cozened; cozening play \ˈkəz-niŋ, ˈkə-zə-\
1 : to deceive, win over, or induce to do something by artful coaxing and wheedling or shrewd trickery
2 : to gain by cozening someone
  • cozened his supper out of the old couple


play \ˈkəz-nər, ˈkə-zə-\ noun

cozen was our Word of the Day on 05/04/2015. Hear the podcast!

Examples of cozen in a Sentence

  1. cozened several elderly ladies into believing that he was intending marriage

  2. cozened scores of people by persuading them to hand over funds that he would “invest”

Recent Examples of cozen from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cozen.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Did You Know?

Be not utterly deceived (or to speak in plainer terms, cozened at their hands). Denouncing the evils of the times, 16th-century Puritan pamphleteer Philip Stubbes thus warned against unscrupulous merchants. "Cozen" may not seem a "plainer term" to us, but it might have to the horse-dependent folks of the 16th century. Some linguists have theorized that "cozen" traces to the Italian noun cozzone, which means "horse trader." 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 etymological association with horse traders, therefore, it's not too surprising that "cozen" suggests deception and fraud.

Origin and Etymology of cozen

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

cozen Synonyms




do a number on, lead one down the garden path (also lead one up the garden path), pull one's leg, pull the wool over one's eyes;

Synonym Discussion of 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

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peaceful, happy, or prosperous

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