What does the phrase “cock of the walk” mean and Where does it come from?

This is he who “rules the roost,” who permits no doubt of his supremacy.

The figurative use is so common, especially as applied to a young dandy strutting along the sidewalk, that we are not likely to wonder why a rooster would be upon a promenade nor how long its cockiness would last if it were.

But, especially in England, “walk” has a particular application. It means a place set aside for the feeding and exercise of domestic animals; or, in this instance, a chicken yard.

The literal cock of the walk, therefore, is the rooster in a given chicken yard. The figurative expression seems to have been in use little more than a century.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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