cower (v.)
c.1300, probably from Middle Low German *kuren "lie in wait" (Modern German kauern), or similar Scandinavian words meaning "to squat" and "to doze" (such as Old Norse kura, Danish, Norwegian kure, Swedish kura). Thus unrelated to coward. Related: Cowered; cowering.
cowl (n.)
Old English cule, from earlier cugele, from Late Latin cuculla "monk's cowl," variant of Latin cucullus "hood, cowl," of uncertain origin. Cowling is 1917 in the aircraft sense.
cowlick (n.)
1590s, from cow (n.) + lick (n.). Because it looks like a cow licked your head.
coworker (n.)
also co-worker, 1640s, from co- + worker (n.).
Cowper's gland (n.)
1738, so called because discovered by anatomist William Cowper (1666-1709); see Cooper.
cowrie (n.)
small shell, used as money in parts of Asia, 1660s, from Hindi and Urdu kauri, from Mahrati kavadi, from Sanskrit kaparda, perhaps related to Tamil kotu "shell."
cowslip (n.)
Old English cu-slyppe, apparently from cu "cow" (see cow (n.)) + slyppe "slop, slobber, dung" (see slop (n.1)).
Cox
surname, from early 16c., earlier Cocks (c.1300), in many cases from cock (n.1), which apparently was used as a personal name in Old English, also as a familiar term for a boy, later used of apprentices, servants, etc. Perhaps in some cases for the sign of an inn. In some cases perhaps from cook (n.), or Welsh coch "red."
coxcomb (n.)
1570s, from cokkes comb (1560s, see cockscomb).
coxswain (n.)
early 14c., "officer in charge of a ship's boat and its crew," from cock "ship's boat" (from Old French coque "canoe") + swain "boy," from Old Norse sveinn "boy, servant" (see swain).
coy (adj.)
early 14c., "quiet, modest, demure," from Old French coi, earlier quei "quiet, still, placid, gentle," ultimately from Latin quietus "resting, at rest" (see quiet (n.)). Meaning "shy" emerged late 14c. Meaning "unwilling to commit" is 1961. Related: Coyly; coyness.
coyote (n.)
1759, American English, from Mexican Spanish coyote, from Nahuatl (Aztecan) coyotl.
coz (n.)
1550s, familiar abbreviation of cousin.
coze (v.)
to chat, 1828, of uncertain origin; perhaps from French causer "to talk," from Latin causari "to plead, dispute, discuss a question," from causa (see cause (n.)).
cozen (v.)
1560s, of uncertain origin; perhaps from French cousiner "cheat on pretext of being a cousin;" or from Middle English cosyn "fraud, trickery" (mid-15c.), which is perhaps related to Old French coçon "dealer, merchant, trader," from Latin cocionem "horse dealer." Related: Cozened; cozening; cozenage.
cozy (adj.)
1709, colsie, Scottish dialect, perhaps of Scandinavian origin (compare Norwegian kose seg "be cozy"). In Britain, usually cosy. Related: Cozily; coziness.
cpr
by 1979, abbreviation of cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
cpu
by 1970, abbreviation of central processing unit.
crab (n.1)
crustacean, Old English crabba, from a general Germanic root (compare Dutch krab, Old High German krebiz, German Krabbe, Old Norse krabbi "crab"), related to Low German krabben, Dutch krabelen "to scratch, claw," from PIE root *gerbh- "to scratch, carve" (see carve). The constellation name is attested in English from c.1000; the Crab Nebula (1868), however, is in Taurus, and is so called for its shape. French crabe (13c.) is from Germanic, probably Old Norse.
crab (n.2)
"fruit of the wild apple tree," c.1300, crabbe, perhaps from Scandinavian (compare Swedish krabbäpple), of obscure origin. The combination of "bad-tempered, combative" and "sour" in the two nouns crab naturally yielded a verb meaning of "to vex, irritate" (c.1400), later "to complain irritably, find fault" (c.1500). The noun meaning "sour person" is from 1570s.
crabbed (adj.)
late 14c., literally "resembling a crab," in reference to crookedness, from crab (n.1). Of taste "bitter, harsh," late 14c., from crab (n.2). Meaning "peevish" is attested from 1560s, in reference to a crab's combative disposition.
crabby (adj.)
1520s, in now-obsolete sense "crooked, gnarled, rough," from extended sense of crab (n.1) + -y (2). Meaning "disagreeable, sour, peevish" is attested from 1776, American English. Both senses were found earlier in crabbed.
crabgrass (n.)
c.1600, from crab (n.1) + grass. Originally a marine grass of salt marshes; modern meaning is from 1743. Perhaps partly for its crooked form.
crack (v.)
Old English cracian "make a sharp noise," from Proto-Germanic *krakojan (cognates: Middle Dutch craken, Dutch kraken, German krachen), probably imitative. Related: Cracked; cracking. To crack a smile is from 1840s; to crack the whip in the figurative sense is from 1940s.
crack (n.)
"split, opening," 14c., from crack (v.). Meaning "try, attempt" first attested 1836, probably a hunting metaphor, from slang sense of "fire a gun." Meaning "rock cocaine" is first attested 1985. The superstition that it is bad luck to step on sidewalk cracks has been traced to c.1890. Adjectival meaning "top-notch, superior" (as in a crack shot) is slang from 1793.
crackdown
also crack down; 1935 (n.), 1940 (v.), from verbal phrase, from crack (v.) + down (adv.).
cracked (adj.)
mid-15c., past participle adjective from crack (v). Meaning "mentally unsound" is 17c. (compare crack-brain "crazy fellow"). The equivalent Greek word was used in this sense by Aristophanes.
cracker (n.1)
mid-15c., "hard wafer," but the specific application to a thin, crisp biscuit is 1739; agent noun from crack (v.). Cracker-barrel (adj.) "emblematic of down-home ways and views" is from 1877.
cracker (n.2)
Southern U.S. derogatory term for "poor, white trash" (1766), probably from mid-15c. crack "to boast" (as in not what it's cracked up to be), originally a Scottish word. Compare Latin crepare "to rattle, crack, creak," with a secondary figurative sense of "boast of, prattle, make ado about."
I should explain to your Lordship what is meant by crackers; a name they have got from being great boasters; they are a lawless set of rascalls on the frontiers of Virginia, Maryland, the Carolinas and Georgia, who often change their places of abode. [1766, G. Cochrane]
But DARE compares corn-cracker "poor white farmer" (1835, U.S. Midwest colloquial). Especially of Georgians by 1808, though often extended to residents of northern Florida. Another name in mid-19c. use was sand-hiller "poor white in Georgia or South Carolina."
Not very essentially different is the condition of a class of people living in the pine-barrens nearest the coast [of South Carolina], as described to me by a rice-planter. They seldom have any meat, he said, except they steal hogs, which belong to the planters, or their negroes, and their chief diet is rice and milk. "They are small, gaunt, and cadaverous, and their skin is just the color of the sand-hills they live on. They are quite incapable of applying themselves steadily to any labor, and their habits are very much like those of the old Indians." [Frederick Law Olmsted, "A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States," 1856]
cracker-jack (n.)
also crackerjack, "something excellent," 1895, U.S. colloquialism, apparently a fanciful construction. The caramel-coated popcorn-and-peanuts confection was said to have been introduced at the World's Columbian Exposition (1893). Supposedly a salesman gave it the name when he tasted some and said, "That's a cracker-jack," using the then-popular expression. The name was trademarked 1896. The "Prize in Every Box" was introduced 1912.
crackhead (n.)
slang, "crack cocaine addict," by 1986, from crack (n.) in the drug slang sense + head (n.). In earlier slang, crack-headed meant "crazy" (1796), from the literal sense of crack.
cracking (adj.)
"excellent," colloquial from 1830s, from present participle of crack (v.).
crackle (v.)
mid-15c., crackelen, frequentative of cracken "to crack" (see crack (v.)). Related: Crackled; crackling. The noun is recorded from 1833.
crackpot (n.)
"mentally unbalanced person," by 1900, probably from crack + pot (n.1) in a slang sense of "head." Compare crack-brain "crazy fellow" (late 16c.). Earlier it was used in a slang sense "a small-time big-shot" (1883), and by medical doctors in reference to a "metallic chinking sometimes heard when percussion is made over a cavity which communicates with a bronchus."
cradle (n.)
c.1200, cradel, from Old English cradol "little bed, cot," from Proto-Germanic *kradulas "basket" (cognates: Old High German kratto, krezzo "basket," German Krätze "basket carried on the back"). Cat's cradle is from 1768. Cradle-snatching "amorous pursuit of younger person" is 1925, U.S. slang.
cradle (v.)
c.1500, from cradle (n.). Related: Cradled; cradling.
craft (n.)
Old English cræft, originally "power, physical strength, might," from Proto-Germanic *krab-/*kraf- (cognates: Old Frisian kreft, Old High German chraft, German Kraft "strength, skill;" Old Norse kraptr "strength, virtue"). Sense expanded in Old English to include "skill, art, science, talent" (via a notion of "mental power"), which led to the meaning "trade, handicraft, calling." The word still was used for "might, power" in Middle English.

Use for "small boat" is first recorded 1670s, probably from a phrase resembling vessels of small craft and referring either to the trade they did or the seamanship they required, or perhaps it preserves the word in its original sense of "power."
craft (v.)
Old English cræftan "to exercise a craft, build," from the same source as craft (n.). Meaning "to make skilfully" is from early 15c., obsolete from 16c., but revived c.1950s, largely in U.S. advertising and commercial senses. Related: Crafted; crafting.
craftsman (n.)
mid-14c., craftes man, from genitive of craft (n.) + man (n.1). Written as one word from late 14c. Old English had cræftiga in this sense. Related: Craftsmanship.
crafty (adj.)
c.1200, crafti, from Old English cræftig "strong, powerful," later "skillful, ingenious," degenerating by c.1200 to "cunning, sly" (but through 15c. also "skillfully done or made; intelligent, learned; artful, scientific") from craft (n.) + -y (2). Related: Craftily; craftiness.
crag (n.)
early 14c.; as a place-name element attested from c.1200, probably from a Celtic source akin to Old Irish crec "rock," and carrac "cliff," Welsh craig "rock, stone," Manx creg.
craggy (adj.)
mid-15c.; see crag + -y (2).
cram (v.)
Old English crammian "press something into something else," from Proto-Germanic *kram-/*krem- (cognates: Old High German krimman "to press, pinch," Old Norse kremja "to squeeze, pinch"), from PIE root *ger- "to gather" (cognates: Sanskrit gramah "heap, troop," Old Church Slavonic gramota "heap," Latin gremium "bosom, lap"). Meaning "study intensely for an exam" originally was British student slang first recorded 1803. Related: Crammed; cramming.
cramp (n.1)
"muscle contraction," late 14c., from Old French crampe, from a Frankish or other Germanic word (compare Old High German krapmhe "cramp, spasm," related to kramph "bent, crooked"), from a Proto-Germanic root forming many words for "bent, crooked," including, via French, crampon. Writer's cramp is first attested 1842 as the name of a physical affliction of the hand, in reference to translations of German medical papers (Stromeyer); also known as scrivener's palsy.
cramp (n.2)
"metal bar bent at both ends," early 15c., from Middle Dutch crampe or Middle Low German krampe, both from the same Proto-Germanic root that yielded cramp (n.1). Metaphoric sense of "something that confines or hinders" first recorded 1719.
cramp (v.1)
"to contract" (of muscles), early 15c., from cramp (n.1). Related: Cramped; cramping.
cramp (v.2)
c.1400, "to bend or twist," from cramp (n.2). Later "compress forcibly" (1550s), and, figuratively, "to restrict" (1620s). Related: Cramped; cramping.
cranberry (n.)
1640s, American English adaptation of Low German kraanbere, from kraan "crane" (see crane (n.)) + Middle Low German bere "berry" (see berry). Perhaps so called from a resemblance between the plants' stamens and the beaks of cranes.

German and Dutch settlers in the New World apparently recognized the similarity between the European berries (Vaccinium oxycoccos) and the larger North American variety (V. macrocarpum) and transferred the name. In England, they were marshwhort or fenberries, but the North American berries, and the name, were brought over late 17c. The native Algonquian name for the plant is represented by West Abenaki popokwa.
crane (n.)
Old English cran "large wading bird," common Germanic (cognates: Old Saxon krano, Old High German krano, German Kranich, and, with unexplained change of consonant, Old Norse trani), from PIE *gere- (cognates: Greek geranos, Latin grus, Welsh garan, Lithuanian garnys "heron, stork"), perhaps echoic of its cry. Metaphoric use for "machine with a long arm" is first attested late 13c. (a sense also in equivalent words in German and Greek).
crane (v.)
"to stretch (the neck)," 1799, from crane (n.). Related: Craned; craning.