COVE, a word mostly used in the sense of a small inlet or sheltered bay in a coast-line. In English dialect usage it is also applied to a cave or to a recess in a mountain-side. The word in O. Eng. is cofa, and cognate forms are found in the Ger. Koben, Norwegian kove, and in various forms in other Teutonic languages. It has no connexion with "alcove," recess in a room or building, which is derived through the Span. alcoba from Arab. al, the, and qubbah, vault, arch, nor with "cup" or "coop," nor with "cave" (Lat. cava). The use of the word was first confined to a small chamber or cell or inner recess in a room or building. From this has come the particular application in architecture to any kind of concave moulding, the term being usually applied to the quadrantal curve rising from the cornice of a lofty room to the moulded borders of the horizontal ceiling. The term "coving" is given in half-timbered work to the curved soffit under a projecting window, or in the 18th century to that occasionally found carrying the gutter of a house. In the Musée Plantin at Antwerp the hearth of the fireplace of the upper floor is carved on coving, which forms part of the design of the chimney-piece in the room below. The slang use of "cove" for any male person, like a "fellow," "chap," etc., is found in the form "cofe" in T. Harman's Caveat for Cursetors (1587) and other early quotations. This seems to be identical with the Scots word "cofe," a pedlar, hawker, which is formed from "coff," to sell, purchase, cognate with the Ger. kaufen, to buy, and the native English "cheap." The word "cove," therefore, is in ultimate origin the same as "chap," short for "chapman," a pedlar.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)