He wouldn't manage so cockle to beat you

< Previous | Next >



I found the following exchange in "The loss of Eldorado" by Trinidadian novelist V. S. Naipaul.

Some context: the black slaves are preparing an insurrection.

His companion said: "they are treating us very badly at these stores now. The other day, a little white boy beat me."
He said: "If Mr Dagueville was on the road now he wouldn't manage so cockle to beat you."

I know what a cockle is, but it doesn't make sense here. As a verb, "to cockle" means to pucker or wrinkle, but I don't think it's a verb. I checked some creole dictionaries but they weren't helpful.
Plus, the syntaxis would look weird if it it were a verb or noun. It should be an adverb.

The OED gives me this:

† cockle, adj.

Etymology: perhaps attrib. use of cockle n.2


Whimsical. Hence cockle-brained, cockle-headed.

Which brings me to cockle-brained, a lesser-known version of chuckle-brained, meaning "foolish, stupid, blockhead". But it's still an adjective. Perhaps something like cockle-brainedly?

What do you think it is?
Last edited:
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    English - England
    "to cockle" means to puckle or writher,
    :) Neither of those are English words - you probably mean pucker and wrinkle. However the verb to cockle in this sense is very rare. I suspect that it comes from the obsolete meaning of to cockle -> to coddle or treat in an indulgent manner.

    he wouldn't manage in so privileged a manner to beat you. (Modern syntax = he wouldn't be able to beat you in so privileged a manner.)

    I would have said "he wouldn't manage in so privilegedly to beat you." but 'privilegedly' isn't a word either. :)


    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    " Cockily", perhaps. I found that passage, and the narrator continues "Cockle: what was that word?" It seems the "king" was using a word of his own making, or he had an odd way of pronouncing it.
    < Previous | Next >