The shuttlecock's form makes it tremendously aerodynamically steady. Regardless of initial orientation, it will turn to fly cork first, and remain in the cork-first orientation.
The name shuttlecock is commonly shortened to shuttle; a shuttlecock may also be known as a bird or birdie. The abbreviation cock is rarely used except in a funny sense, due to its vulgar connotations. The "shuttle" part of the name was most likely derived from its back-and-forth movement during the game, similar to the shuttle of a loom; the "cock" part of the name was almost certainly derived from the likeness of the feathers to a bird's crest.