Definition of cuckoo in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkʊkuː/


1A long-tailed, medium-sized bird, typically with a grey or brown back and barred or pale underparts. Many cuckoos lay their eggs in the nests of small songbirds.
Example sentences
  • It is an important wintering ground for European migratory birds such as the white stork, the lesser kestrel, the Eurasian golden oriole, the Eurasian cuckoo and other wading birds.
  • The pheasant cuckoo is a bird that took Stauffer and me a succession of trips to locate.
  • The wet season (mid-June to early October) is hot and humid and the best time for flowering plants, amphibians, reptiles and intra-African migrant birds such as cuckoos.
2 informal A mad person.
Example sentences
  • Perhaps this explains that cuckoo '96 NBA offseason, which saw a handful of players land outrageous contracts.
  • It sure didn't take new Portland coach Mo Cheeks long to pick up the company line on resident cuckoo Rasheed Wallace.
  • If you honestly believe that had he been the prime minister, Britain would not have aided our closest ally the US in Iraq then I'm sorry, you're living in cuckoo land.


Mad; crazy: people think you’re cuckoo
More example sentences
  • Her anti-feminist manifesto is the final crazy coating on this already cuckoo confection.
  • India's policy-makers must emerge from their cuckoo world of neo-liberal economics and corporate-driven politics.
  • Any bad weather which came at the end of April or early May was dismissed as a mere cuckoo storm that would only last a day or two.


cuckoo in the nest

An unwelcome intruder in a place or situation.
Example sentences
  • But what once looked like a fledgling of which they might be proud has turned into a cuckoo in the nest.
  • Where once Nato was about European protection, is it not now becoming the cuckoo in the nest of European ambitions?
  • At first Deakin seemed a cuckoo in the Berry nest - what would later be called a class traitor.


Middle English: from Old French cucu, imitative of its call.

  • The cuckoo is one of those birds whose name echoes the sound of its distinctive call—other examples are curlew (Late Middle English), hoopoe (mid 17th century), kittiwake (mid 17th century), and peewit [E16th]. You can describe an unwelcome intruder in a place or situation as a cuckoo in the nest. This comes from the cuckoo's habit of laying her eggs to be raised in another bird's nest. Cuckold (Old English), referring to the husband of an unfaithful wife, also derives from cucu, and plays on the same cuckoo-in-the-nest idea, although it is not actually the husband who is being the ‘cuckoo’. The reason that a silly or mad person is described as a cuckoo, or is said to have gone cuckoo, is probably that the bird's monotonously repeated call suggests simple-mindedness. Kook, ‘an eccentric person’, is short for cuckoo. It was first recorded in the 1920s but only really became common in the late 1950s. See also cloud, coccyx

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