Where does the word “petcock” come from and What does petcock mean?

None of the various word tracers has attempted to explain why the small shut-off valve was named petcock.

Though a cock, it is distinctly no one’s pet.

Until someone turns up with a better explanation, we suggest that pet was merely a contraction of petty or petit, meaning “small, minor, inferior.”

where does the word petcock come from and what does petcock mean

An objection to this theory is that we have no record that the valve was ever known as a “petty cock”; it was petcock (or pet-cock) from the earliest printed use, around the mid-nineteenth century.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist for zippyfacts.com. Born in New York, she loves interesting random facts from all over the world.