WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Cove

Cove (noun)

fellow, chap; can be used in speaking of any third-person whose name you are either ignorant of or don’t wish to mention; slang from at least 1560s, said to be from Romany (Gypsy) cova, “that man”








When you add the right adjective, coves get interesting:

bang-up cove (well-dressed gentleman)

bene-cove (a good fellow; also a staunch-cove)

cross-cove (a person who lives by stealing, or in a dishonest manner)

dimber-cove (a pretty fellow)

downy-cove (clever rogue; sly dog)

gentry-cove (a gentleman)

kinchin cove (a little man)

leary-cove (vigilant, suspicious gentleman)

square cove (an upright, honest man)

try this lacy





“See that cove by the elevator – the one in the gorgeous Armani suit?”

“John is such a leary-cove. He never believes anything until he tries it for himself.”


All definitions and/or examples taken from Online Etymological DictionaryCant: A Gentleman’s Guide, and/or 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

2 thoughts on “WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Cove

  1. Wow is right, Renee – love that picture of James Purefoy as Beau Brummel. And love all the examples of “cove” in your article, too! Very informative. I wonder what modern term might be equivalent to cove? All I can think of is “dude.” But that might just be because I am from California 🙂


    • That’s a good question! “Guy” popped into my head first, and then “bloke” for UK slang. I don’t think I ever refer to someone as a “gentleman” or “male” unless it’s in writing or a very formal situation; I would say “that guy” or “that dude.” Even though we define these words as slang, I think they’ve replaced the nouns they’re based on in terms of frequency of usage and sounding more natural in everyday speech. Or at least for us Yanks.

      My husband is running some errands for me today, so I thanked him for being a staunch-cove. He just blinked: “You betcha.”

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