Nasty-sounding word! But it’s in the dictionary and it’s used by respectable people in respectable places – surprise to me!<2015 “‘We think he’s broke and so he sends a couple of goons to put the squeeze on you. For some reason you don’t want to be squeezed. They push, you coldcock them in broad daylight outside a courtroom. I like it.”’—Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham, page 260>
OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY
COLDCOCK or COLD-COCK verb transitive, [[adjective]]: to knock (a person) unconscious (U.S. slang). [[usually by a blow to the head]]
______________________________<1927 Cold cocked, to be knocked senseless. ‘Tom was cold cocked when that rock hit him.’”—American Speech, Vol. 2, page 351/1>
<1934 “They cold-cocked him, and left him unconscious.”—The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan (1936) by J. T. Farrell, iv. page 205>
The OED does not offer any discussion of origin. They don’t even say ‘origin unknown’ or ‘origin uncertain,’ I was hoping for something interesting like being hit in the head and knocked unconscious by a frozen penis. But alas they remain silent. I’ll try looking elsewhere:
CASSELL’S DICTIONARY OF SLANG
COLD-COCK also COLD-CAULK verb [1910s]: To knock unconscious [Standard English (out) cold, unconscious/knock cold]
Cassell’s also offers no etymology - no ‘origin uncertain,’ no ‘origin unknown, - not even the possibility of being hit in the head with a wad of frozen or dried out caulking.
One more try:
DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN REGIONAL ENGLISH
COLDCOCK also COLCOCK, COOLCOCK verb [cold - unconscious, senseless + cock (see verb 2)]
verb 2 (cock) [Etymology uncertain]: To hit someone hard, to knock someone out.
So the etymology of this ‘cock’ verb is uncertain, therefore the etymology of coldcock is uncertain. C’est la vie! (>:)
Quotes from archived sources:
<1987 “They say we will fight them, and so we have to? And we win because someone slips us some brass knuckles so we can coldcock the guy?”—Chicago Sun-Times (Illinois), 9 October>
<1997 “In their turn, city planners, reluctant to relinquish control over the handsome complex, have aimed to coldcock the Beduin petition in its tracks and are earning an A in stonewalling.”—Jerusalem Post (Israel), 5 December>
<2000 “Grant intends to vent those feelings soon, at the expense of the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. Grant intends to coldcock Lennox Lewis for what he has done, or at least for what Grant thinks he has done.”—The Boston Globe (Massachusetts), 13 February>
<2001 “In fact, George [[wrestler]] tells me he doesn't really like violence, not real unstaged violence, anyway. It's just that he feels the pressure of certain, as he calls them, natural needs. The need, for example, to coldcock his friend with a folding chair.
<2002 “ Women suffered plentiful indignities loving the Hoochie Coochie Man. Gordon's book is full of macho musical metaphors (‘as bracing as a coldcock punch’ etc)”—Scotland on Sunday (Edinburgh), 18 August
<2004 “It is fair to say that we haven't seen the John Kerry who can coldcock George Bush.”—The Economist (U.S.), 5 June>
<2008 “Calamitous decision-making might indeed be an indicator of trouble afoot. General irritability can be another, often manifesting itself as a desire to coldcock anything that moves.”—Star Tribune (Minneapolis, Minnesota), 18 April>
<2010 “There's Ohio State coach Woody Hayes, stepping out onto the field to coldcock that kid from Clemson in the Gator Bowl.”—Boston Herald (Massachusetts), 1 September>
“Did you ever see someone coldcock a blind nun?
"Well, I did. Two helpful idiots
"Steered her across the tarmac to her plane
"And led her smack into the wing.
"She deplaned with two black eyes and a crooked wimple,
"Bruised proof that the distinction is not simple
"Between ineptitude and evil."
(By Carolyn Kizer, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet.)—AP Online, 14 October>
Ken G – January 1, 2016