Definition of cozen
- cozened his supper out of the old couple
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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”
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.
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.
First Known Use: 1573See Words from the same year
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to lessen the seriousness or strength of
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