[ koo-ter ]
/ ˈku tər /


Chiefly Southern U.S. any of several large aquatic turtles of the southern U.S. and northern Mexico.

Nearby words

Origin of cooter

1820–30; said to be < Bambara, Malinke kuta turtle (with related forms in other Niger-Congo languages); compare coot to copulate (of sea turtles), first attested in the Caribbean in 1667 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cooter

  • Democrats have only the dude who played “Cooter” on The Dukes of Hazard to crow about.

    Hollywood's Dirty Secret|John Avlon|May 14, 2009|DAILY BEAST
  • The cooter is the terrapin, and a very expert boatman he is.

    Letters of a Traveller|William Cullen Bryant
  • A “cooter” is a box-tortoise, and the noun is turned into a verb with an ease characteristic of the mountaineers.

Word Origin and History for cooter



name for some types of freshwater terrapin in southern U.S., 1835 (first attested 1827 in phrase drunk as a cooter, but this probably is a colloquial form of unrelated coot), from obsolete verb coot "to copulate" (1660s), of unknown origin. The turtle is said to copulate for two weeks at a stretch.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper