What does the word cousin mean when used as a verb? By context I take it to mean that someone is putting someone else on or being difficult with someone else.

For example, in The Dark Tower (Stephen King) series Wizard and Glass, a character, Eddie, is pressuring another character, Roland, to tell a story of his youth and of the troubling things that happened to him. Roland has been reluctant to do this until now. When Eddie reminds him of his promise to tell them, he responds thusly:

"Would you think that I was cousining", he said, "if I asked for one more day to think of these things?"

In other examples I have taken it to mean lying or being decietful. Spoilers below:

Later in Wolves of the Calla, Eddie shoots the "eyes" of a robot named Andy, effectively blinding him. Andy beings frantically yelling for help, interspersed with "You cousining bastard!". Eddie previously had lied and tricked Andy into entering a confined space where he would be easier to deal with.

Regardless of instances, the word appears to have a pretty negative connotation of falsity or deceit. I would really like to know a more accepted definition, although I suspect that this use of the word is wholly Stephen Kings doing.


Probably it is just a spelling mistake.

Definition of COZEN

transitive verb


: to deceive, win over, or induce to do something by artful coaxing and wheedling or shrewd trickery


: to gain by cozening someone


  • 1
    The OED attests two different cousin verbs: one to call cousin or claim kinship of, and the other an alternate spelling of cozen. Both are considered obsolete today.
    – tchrist
    Aug 27 '15 at 22:15
  • Interesting. So SK took the word, revived it for the story, took the alternate spelling and used that. The setting of the story allows for more archaic and obsolete words: cully, palaver, ken, etc. Thanks! Aug 27 '15 at 22:23
  • @tchrist - That's interesting. Looking at the ngram, it looks as though the 'cousin' spelling wasn't very common. I wonder what the author used as his source. books.google.com/ngrams/… -- Note also that if you follow the links, they seem to refer to 'visiting relatives' rather than deceiving. So I'm still not entirely convinced. Do you have the actual quote from OED? Aug 27 '15 at 22:32
  • I think "Cousin" used as a verb looks rather like the sort of verbing that Shakespeare was fond of, especially if there was a pun on cousin and cozen. See oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/cousin sense 1.4, and shakespeareswords.com/cousin. "Cozen" meaning "cheat, deceive" has a completely different etymology from "cousin". oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/cozen
    – alephzero
    Aug 27 '15 at 23:56
  • 2
    @alephzero - I just found a pun in Shakespeare! ---> Richard III [IV, 4] Cousins, indeed; and by their uncle cozen'd, Of comfort, kingdom, kindred, freedom, life. Aug 28 '15 at 0:42

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