Michael Quinion TheEditor at WORLDWIDEWORDS.ORG
Fri Sep 13 18:56:03 UTC 2002

Peter Richardson wrote:

> Would this be related to _toast_?

It might be. There's an obviously similarity of ideas. I suspect that
"cooked" in this sense may well come from feeling excessively hot as
the result of extreme exertion. I've found an Australian cite from
the early 20th century that looks very much as though the latter is
the formative idea.

Douglas G. Wilson wrote:

> However, Google search for "I was cooked" turns up several
> instances where it seems to mean "I was fatigued"/"I was fagged
> out" ... these are in athletic contexts, and the authors are at
> least sometimes ostensibly US-ans. Maybe this usage is
> international in certain sports circles.

This may well be so. The reason for my asking is that the word turned
up in a piece on the sports pages of the "Guardian" this morning,
about a French footballer who is claiming exhaustion: "'I'm not just
tired, I'm cooked. I can hardly stand up at times,' he said in an
interview in the French newspaper L'Equipe". In the original he's
presumably using the equivalent French expression "je suis cuit(e)"
but it is interesting to see that it has been translated as "cooked",
which I didn't think was a current English slang expression in the
sense of "exhausted". But there are a very few examples in the OED
archives, some from North America, and Jonathon Green tells me he has
a few going back to the late nineteenth century.

My reason for asking was to try to get some sort of feel for its
current range. The sports arena looks to be the most likely from
present evidence.

Michael Quinion
Editor, World Wide Words
E-mail: <TheEditor at>
Web: <>

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