[kuhk-uh ld]


the husband of an unfaithful wife.

verb (used with object)

to make a cuckold of (a husband).

Origin of cuckold

1200–50; Middle English cukeweld, later cok(k)ewold, cukwold < Anglo-French *cucuald (compare Middle French cucuault), equivalent to Old French cocu cuckoo + -ald, -alt pejorative suffix (see ribald); apparently orig. applied to an adulterer, in allusion to the cuckoo's habit of laying its eggs in other birds' nests
Related formscuck·old·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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Contemporary Examples of cuckold

Historical Examples of cuckold

British Dictionary definitions for cuckold



a man whose wife has committed adultery, often regarded as an object of scorn


(tr) to make a cuckold of
Derived Formscuckoldry, noun

Word Origin for cuckold

C13 cukeweld, from Old French cucuault, from cucu cuckoo; perhaps an allusion to the parasitic cuckoos that lay their eggs in the nests of other birds
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 cuckold

mid-13c., kukewald, from Old French cucuault, from cocu (see cuckoo) + pejorative suffix -ault, of Germanic origin. So called from the female bird's alleged habit of changing mates, or her authentic habit of leaving eggs in another bird's nest.

In Modern French the identity is more obvious: Coucou for the bird and cocu for the betrayed husband. German Hahnrei (13c.), from Low German, is of obscure origin. The second element seems to be connected to words for "ardent," and suggests perhaps "sexually aggressive hen," with transferal to humans, but Kluge suggests rather a connection to words for "capon" and "castrated." Related: Cuckoldry.


1580s, from cuckold (n.). Related: Cuckolded; cuckolding.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper