[koo k-uh-bur-uh, -buhr-uh]

Origin of kookaburra

First recorded in 1885–90, kookaburra is from the Wiradjuri word gugubarra (imitative)
Also called laughing jackass.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for kookaburra

Historical Examples of kookaburra

  • The kookaburra is about the size of an owl, of a mottled grey colour.

  • To start off with, they had an unpleasant scene with a Kookaburra, a low larrikin who resented the way that Bill examined him.

    The Magic Pudding

    Norman Lindsay

  • The kookaburra seems to find much grim fun in this world, and is always disturbing the Bush quiet with its curious “laughter.”

British Dictionary definitions for kookaburra


  1. Also called: laughing jackass a large arboreal Australian kingfisher, Dacelo novaeguineae (or gigas), with a cackling cry
  2. Also called: blue-winged kookaburra a related smaller bird D. Leachii, of tropical Australia and New Guinea

Word Origin for kookaburra

C19: from a native Australian language
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 kookaburra

1890, from a native Australian word.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper