[kok-uh-too, kok-uh-too]

noun, plural cock·a·toos.

any of numerous large, noisy, crested parrots of the genera Cacatua, Callocephalon, Calyptorhynchus, etc., of the Australasian region, having chiefly white plumage tinged with yellow, pink, or red: popular as a pet.
  1. a person who owns and works a small farm or ranch.
  2. Slang.a lookout posted by criminals or the operators of illegal gambling games.

Origin of cockatoo

1610–20; < Dutch kaketoe < Malay kakatua, perhaps etymologizing alteration of Central Moluccan jaka any psittacine bird, by association with Malay kakak sibling, kakak tua older sibling); spelling copies cock1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cockatoo

Historical Examples of cockatoo

  • It is the only American parrot which resembles the cockatoo of Australia.

    The Western World

    W.H.G. Kingston

  • This assertion may be proved by setting free a cockatoo in the plains of India.

  • And are you still longing for your freedom so much, Cockatoo?

    The Cockatoo's Story

    Mrs. George Cupples

  • "I feel you are right there, Master Herbert," said the cockatoo.

    The Cockatoo's Story

    Mrs. George Cupples

  • "There is no need to be so angry, old lady," replied the cockatoo.

    The Cockatoo's Story

    Mrs. George Cupples

British Dictionary definitions for cockatoo


noun plural -toos

any of various parrots of the genus Kakatoe and related genera, such as K. galerita (sulphur-crested cockatoo), of Australia and New Guinea. They have an erectile crest and most of them are light-coloured
Australian and NZ a small farmer or settler
Australian informal a lookout during some illegal activity

Word Origin for cockatoo

C17: from Dutch kaketoe, from Malay kakatua
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for cockatoo

1610s, from Dutch kaketoe, from Malay kakatua, possibly echoic, or from kakak "elder brother or sister" + tua "old." Also cockatiel (1880), from Dutch diminutive kaketielje (1850), which is perhaps influenced by Portuguese. Spelling influenced by cock (n.1).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper