• synonyms


noun, plural coot·ies.
  1. cootie1.
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noun, plural coot·ies. Scot.
  1. cootie2.
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or coot·y

noun plural coot·ies. Informal.
  1. a louse, especially one affecting humans, as the body louse, head louse, or pubic louse.
  2. a child's term for an imaginary germ or disease that one can catch by touching a person who is disliked or socially avoided: The girls at camp thought the boys had cooties.
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Origin of cootie1

1910–15; perhaps < Malay kutu biting body louse, with final syllable conformed to -ie


or coot·y

noun Scot.
  1. a wooden container, especially a wooden bowl, for storing or serving food or drink.
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Origin of cootie2

1775–85; variant of Scots cood, of uncertain origin
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for cooty

Historical Examples

  • "Cooty" would not have that, but calmly began to refill an empty magazine.

    500 of the Best Cockney War Stories


  • So far as I know, it is the only thing sold that will do the cooty in.

  • If it is possible to get a louse pomade called Harrison's in this country, send it, as it is a cooty killer.

  • "Cooty" was seen to go rigid for a moment, and then he quickly rolled to one side to make way for "Number Two" to take his place.

  • Poor "Cooty," who had lost his left foot as well, passed out shortly after, was a Guardsman at one time.

British Dictionary definitions for cooty


  1. US and NZ a slang name for the body louseAlso called (NZ): kutu See louse (def. 1)
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Word Origin

C20: perhaps from Malay or Māori kutu louse
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 cooty



"body lice," 1917, British World War I slang, earlier in nautical use, said to be from Malay kutu "dog tick."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper