counterfeiter's slang again

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Sat May 29 18:12:17 UTC 2004

Doug Wilson asks:

> I'm curious about why "co[g]niac[ker]". Does anybody know?
> Speculations are readily available as usual.

As far as "cogniac" vs "coniack" goes: when I wrote a note on Counterfeiter's Slang for American Speech a few years ago, my only citation for "cogniac/coniack" was from a book by a gentleman felon who had done time in the NY State penitentiary.  I said then that his probable familiarity with cognac brandy influenced his spelling of a word he would have learned by word of mouth in the joint, not by reading.  But since then I have seen "cogniac" in several newspapers of the time.  But my "cognac" argument may still apply to the gentleman non-felon editors.

As for the etymology of the word, I have no idea.


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998.

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