in the dock


3 [dok]
the place in a courtroom where a prisoner is placed during trial.
in the dock, being tried in a court, especially a criminal court; on trial.

1580–90; perhaps < Dutch dok (dial. sense) cage, poultry pen, rabbit hutch Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
dock1 (dɒk)
1.  a wharf or pier
2.  a space between two wharves or piers for the mooring of ships
3.  an area of water that can accommodate a ship and can be closed off to allow regulation of the water level
4.  short for dry dock
5.  short for scene dock
6.  chiefly (US), (Canadian) a platform from which lorries, goods trains, etc, are loaded and unloaded
7.  to moor (a vessel) at a dock or (of a vessel) to be moored at a dock
8.  to put (a vessel) into a dry dock for repairs or (of a vessel) to come into a dry dock
9.  (of two spacecraft) to link together in space or link together (two spacecraft) in space
[C14: from Middle Dutch docke; perhaps related to Latin ducere to lead]

dock2 (dɒk)
1.  the bony part of the tail of an animal, esp a dog or sheep
2.  the part of an animal's tail left after the major part of it has been cut off
3.  to remove (the tail or part of the tail) of (an animal) by cutting through the bone: to dock a tail; to dock a horse
4.  to deduct (an amount) from (a person's wages, pension, etc): they docked a third of his wages
[C14: dok, of uncertain origin]

dock3 (dɒk)
an enclosed space in a court of law where the accused sits or stands during his trial
[C16: from Flemish dok sty]

dock4 (dɒk)
1.  any of various temperate weedy plants of the polygonaceous genus Rumex, having greenish or reddish flowers and typically broad leaves
2.  any of several similar or related plants
[Old English docce; related to Middle Dutch, Old Danish docke, Gaelic dogha]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

"ship's berth," late 15c., from M.Du. or M.L.G. docke, perhaps ultimately (via L.L. *ductia "aqueduct") from L. ducere "to lead" (see duke); or possibly from a Scand. word for "low ground" (cf. Norw. dokk "hollow, low ground"). Original sense was "furrow a grounded vessel makes
in a mud bank." Related: Docked; docking.

"where accused stands in court," 1586, originally rogue's slang, from Flem. dok "pen or cage for animals," origin unknown.

"cut an animal's tail," late 14c., from dok (n.) "fleshy part of an animal's tail," related to O.E. -docca "muscle," from P.Gmc. *dokko "something round, bundle" (cf. O.N. dokka "bundle, girl," Dan. dukke "doll," Ger. Docke "small column, bundle, doll, smart girl"). Meaning "to reduce (someone's) pay
for some infraction" is first recorded 1822. Related: Docked; docking.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

in the dock

On trial, especially in a criminal case. For example, The accused stood in the dock through the entire proceeding. This expression employs dock in the sense of "an enclosed place for the defendant in a court of law," a usage dating from the late 1500s, and is used even in American courts where no such enclosure exists.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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