Cock
Posted: 11 February 2014 12:02 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I was reading a short story, ( D.H. Lawrence’s The lovely lady) and I came upon this sentence: “ And in silence, in the dark, they walked down the garden and over the little bridge to the paddock, where the hay cut very late, was in cock.”

I’ve never encountered the usage of cock in this context.

The OED entries:

a. trans. (and absol.) To put up (hay, etc.) in cocks.
1393 Langland Piers Plowman C. vi. 13 Canstow..coke [v.r. coken] for my cokers [v.r. cokares, cokerus] oþer to þe cart picche?
1393 Langland Piers Plowman C. xxii. 238 And somme he tauhte to tulye, to theche and to coke.
1573 T. Tusser Fiue Hundreth Points Good Husbandry (new ed.) f. 50v, Take heede to the weather, the winde and the skye: if danger aprocheth, then cock a pace crye.
1624 Althorp MS. in J. N. Simpkinson Washingtons Introd. 57 To Gardner (and 10 others) 4 daies moying and one daie cocking brakes.
1686 R. Plot Nat. Hist. Staffs. ix. 353 They bind and cock it [sc. barley] as they doe Wheat and Rye.
1767 A. Young Farmer’s Lett. 214. 
1834 Brit. Husbandry (Libr. Useful Knowl.) I. 495 It does not rake the grass into rows, nor cock it.

I did further research and found quite an extensive and varied use of the word.  The link below is another demonstration how words can change into a dichotomy.
I guess it’s an example on how a word , over time, might change to an opposite meaning.

http://www.laweekly.com/2014-01-09/news/cock-means-vagina-let-us-explain/

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Posted: 11 February 2014 12:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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From “Little Boy Blue”:

....and where is the boy that looks after the sheep?
He’s under the haycock, fast asleep.

some modern versions prefer “haystack”, perhaps from an exaggerated sense of political correctness (somewhat like the hostess at the party: “would you like, excuse me, a cocktail?”)

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Posted: 11 February 2014 01:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I suspect the haycock/haystack substitution has less to do with political correctness or hyperavoidance of pseudo-obscenity than it does with lack of familiarity with “haycock” (very uncommon in the US, AFAIK) and wide familiarity with “haystack”.  Then again, hypersensinsitivity can never be completely ruled out in cases like this.  FWIW, I don’t think I’ve ever run across haycocks, putting hay into cocks, or cocking the hay, before reading this thread.

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Posted: 14 February 2014 12:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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True, “haycock” is an unfamiliar word; and since the mechanization of haymaking, the haycock itself (a completely different thing from a haystack) must pretty well have disappeared. An interesting article on ‘hay” in Wikipedia doesn’t mention haycocks, even in the historical part.

I think Little Boy Blue would probably have suffocated under a haystack.

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