Date: Thu, 7 May 1998 12:29:57 -0400
From: Alan Baragona
Subject: Re: cod fax

At 11:54 AM 5/7/98 EDT, RonButters wrote:
>In a message dated 5/7/98 8:53:51 AM, downingg[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]IS2.NYU.EDU wrote:
><<"Cod" (noun and verb) is a long-standing UK term for a trick or various
>other kinds of insincerity; the word appears in Joyce's work from the early
>20th century.>>
>I'm sure COD appears in Shakespeare in this sense (TWELFTH NIGHT maybe?)

Apparently not. I don't have a concordance handy, but these are the only
citations for "cod" that show up in the MIT Shakespeare search engine:

OTHELLO Act 2, Scene 1

To change the cod's head for the salmon's tail; [text]

KING LEAR Act 3, Scene 2

The cod-piece that will house [text]

Marry, here's grace and a cod-piece; that's a wise

Matty Farrow's search site in Australia turns up only the Lear citations.

OED2's earliest citation for "cod" as a verb meaning to trick is 1873:

cod, v.3 slang or dial. [perh. f. cod sb.5 in sense `fool'.] trans. `To hoax, to
take a "rise" out of' (Slang Dict. 1873); to humbug, impose upon. Also intr., to
play a joke, to `kid', to sham; to burlesque (see also quot. 1933). So

'codding vbl. sb.

1884 Cheshire Gloss., Coddin, humbugging. `Tha'st only coddin me
as tha allus does; tha'l none tay me to see th' fair.'

As a noun there is

cod, sb.6 dial. [perh. f. cod v.3] (See quot.)

1887 S. Cheshire Folk-sp., Cod, a humbug, imposition..`That
hoss-duty was a regilar cod of a thing.'


2. A joke; a hoax, leg-pull; a parody, a `take-off'. (See also E.D.D. sb.5) Also
attrib. or quasi-adj., parodying, burlesque; `mock'.

1905 Sketch LI. 472/2 Says he: `Is that an absolute bargain-no cod?'
Says she: `I don't know what the fish has to do with it, but I am
perfectly sincere.'

So 1873 is the earliest date the OED2 has for this meaning.