Cock And Bull Story

Meanings of “Cock And Bull Story”

The phrase “cock and bull story” means a very interesting, exciting, and almost fantastical story that is hardly believable. It also means a cooked up story.

Origin of “Cock And Bull Story”

The phrase “cock and bull story” is widely believed to have originated at Stony Stratford which is located in Buckingham in the United Kingdom. The visitors of Milton Keynes, the bar located there, has now become an icon to visit. It is stated that there were two inns, The Cock, and The Bull, where people used to stay when visiting Milton Keynes.  As people used to visit them often, there were various stories passing from person to person but having none of the believable stuff in them. Therefore, such stories were often called “bock and bull story.”

However, its first printed use has been found in a play, Law-Trickes or Who Would Have Thought It, by John Day. It was published in 1608 where it goes thus; “What a tale of a cock and a bull he told my father.”

Examples in Literature

Example #1

A COCK AND BULL STORY, A Nursery Rhyme by Anonymous

The cock’s on the housetop blowing his horn;
The bull’s in the barn a-threshing of corn;
The maids in the meadows are making of hay;
The ducks in the river are swimming away.

These nursery rhymes are very popular in almost every other country. However, their author is unknown, for they have been transferred from one generation to another generation. The four lines written in perfect rhyme scheme tell how an unbelievable story of a cock and bull who were working together. In reality, it doesn’t happen. Hence, the phrase is shown with the use of characters with metaphorical meaning.

Example #2

Cock and Bull Stories by Robert Zaretsky

Like John Muir and Yosemite, or Claude Francois Denecourt, the eccentric largely responsible for the creation of the forest of Fontainebleau, Baroncelli is the genius loci or the Camargue’s resident “spirit.” A mediocre poet becomes a rancher, an irresolution revolutionary turned showman, and a regionalist made into a bricoleur (a sort of do-it-yourself) of history and folktale, Baroncelli told a compelling cock and bull story – an important but neglected one – that helped create modern France.

This paragraph discusses three brilliant French poets such as Baroncelli who has written compelling cock and bull stories. However, the use of this phrase has another hint; a bull is considered a symbol of strong nationalism in southern France. Therefore, Baroncelli’s cock and bull stories are compelling which seems to be a good use of paradox.

Example #3

Another Improbable Love Story That Was by Willie Price

Of course, Luke and the men who arrived at the scene of the horrific crime knew the truth. Due to the sensibilities of all concerned, Adeline’s family as well as the Balboas, the men made an unspoken agreement of denial. They willingly affirmed the sheriff’s erroneous and warped theories about what really transpired. They choose to take solace in a tolerable cock-and-bull story.

This passage was written with the background of the start of slavery. The three characters find a dead body that they want to hide, though, they are aware of the full truth. Therefore, when the police officer arrives, they choose to have all of his theories comprising cock-and-bull stories accepted.

Example #4

Fear and Other Stories from the Pulps By Abdullah Achmed

“A tale which I have no intention of telling you – he decided to return his own land. He took along a fortune. In diamonds. As to the chiefs and the medicine –”
“He told them some cock-and-bull story, I guess?”
“Yes. That he had to go away, by himself, into the deep jungle, to commune with the spirit of Mohammed Bello, for all I know.

The writer is discussing different things about the character who has gone to his homeland with a lot of wealth. He thinks that the narrator must be present among his people, telling them some cock-and-bull stories by which he means the same fantasies that have no truth in them.

Example in Sentences

Example #1: “You are just telling a cock and bull story and nothing else. There are no unicorns in Europe.”

Example #2: “Even if they retell all the events, join them and then come to the conclusion, you will feel that all the fancy details of your narrative are nothing; they are just a cock and bull story.”

Example #3: “Almost all the stories given in Aesop’s Fables are not like cock and bull stories; actually, they are metaphorical stories for human behavior or for moral lessons.”

Example #4: “The politicians are good at telling a cock and bull story by twisting the facts. They’ll do anything to buy votes.”

Example #5: “When he was narrating that cock and bull story, all the people are stupefied; the details were just like fairies and ghosts that have never existed. Yet, people are speechless.”