Green’s Dictionary of Slang

cuckoo n.1

[SE phr. cuckoo in the nest, denoting the oddness of such an individual]

1. a cuckold; thus the fig. wearing of the cuckoo’s feather, the state of being a cuckold [the cuckoo lays its eggs in another bird’s nest].

[UK]Shakespeare Love’s Labour’s Lost V ii: The cuckoo then on easy tree / Mocks married men.
[UK]J. Taylor Juniper Lecture 221: I made him weare an invisible Cuckooes Feather in his Cap.
[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy I 174: Who’s the Cuckoo, Who’s the Cuckold, who’s the horner?
[UK]Crim.-Con. Gaz. 3 Nov. 87/3: That unfortunate race of men whom the illiberal classes [...] distinguish by the denomination of cuckolds, but whom we [...] called Knights of the Cuckoo.

2. (also coo-coo) a fool, an eccentric, a silly person.

[UK]H. Chettle Kind-Harts Dreame F3: They can bypasse, compasse, and bring vnder one another as cunningly and commonly, as euer poore Cuckoe coulde command his Jacke in a Boxe.
[UK]Shakespeare Henry IV Pt 1 II iv: O’horseback, ye cuckoo! but, afoot he will not budge a foot.
[UK]J. Taylor ‘An Armado’ in Works (1869) I 78: They had likewise store of fowle, as Gull, Goose, Widgeon, Woodcocke, Buzzard, Owles, Cormorants, Quailes, Railes, Cuckooes, Wag-tailes, Ring-tailes, and Bittoures.
[UK] ‘Poems on the Duke of Monmouth’ in Ebsworth Bagford Ballads (1876–80) II 804: Let every scabby City-Cuckow, / Fly into your Hedge-lane to look you.
[UK]N. Ward Compleat and Humorous Account of Remarkable Clubs (1756) 42: By these sort of Stratagems they used to hedge in their Cuckows.
[UK]W. Scott Peveril of the Peak (1824) 85: For the cuckoo I travel with and whom I indulge in his prodigal follies, he also has his uses.
[UK]J.K. Jerome Three Men in a Boat 153: Give us a hand here, can’t you, you cuckoo.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 9 Nov. 36/2: You’re a fine gentleman ter talk to a pore woman abart ’er box. Garn, yer bald-’eded old cooco; I’ll bash yer bloomin’ face if yer ses any more ter me!
[Aus]Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW) 12 Jan. 2/3: They heard it said that Tom Mann was a ramping ranting cuckoo.
[UK]A. Bennett Card (1974) 267: ‘You are nothing but a cuckoo,’ Denry pleasantly informed her.
A. Baer Pay Envelope Loses Kick 3 Jan. [synd. col.] Bill’s wife isn’t the only cuckoo who’s up against the eats puzzle.
[US]H.C. Witwer Fighting Blood 27: Suppose Judy sees me – or this cuckoo, Rags Dempster?
[UK]‘Henry Green’ Living (1978) 274: Don’t listen to that old cuckoo.
[UK]D.L. Sayers Nine Tailors (1984) 182: What a beetle-headed cuckoo I am!
Medford Mail Trib. (OR) 25 July 6/3: [cartoon caption] ‘I gotta hustle to make some bucks an’ give that [...] coocoo his dough’.
[US]E. O’Neill Iceman Cometh Act I: What a bunch of cuckoos!
[US]R. Prather Always Leave ’Em Dying 129: This was the damnedest, goofiest vista of cuckoos I had ever laid eyes on in my life.
[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS 120/1: coo-coo An insane person; one who is crazy, stupid, or unconventional.
[US]H. Ellison Flop Sweat in Shatterday (1982) 71: We know there are enough cuckoos out there who like to confess to crimes.
[US]M. Thatcher in N.Y. Times n.p.: After all, it wouldn’t be spring, would it, without the voice of the occasional cuckoo? [R].
[US]P. Cornwell Point of Origin (1999) 2: This letter’s probably not from her at all. Probably some other cuckoo.

3. (US) something foolish, a failure.

[US]S.V. Benét Young People’s Pride 9: I bet his book’ll be a cuckoo, then.

In compounds

cuckoo academy (n.)

(US) a psychiatric institution.

[US]G. Swarthout Loveland 232: I loved her too much to commit her to the Cuckoo Academy [HDAS]. 1 Nov. [Internet] Some of you may understand what I’m saying and others will think a room at the Bellevue Cuckoo Academy better suits my current state.
cuckoo bird (n.) [bird n.1 (3a)]

(US) an eccentric, a mad person.

[US]Davis & Wolsey Call House Madam 282: This same cuckoo bird threw a stag party one night.
[US]E. De Roo Go, Man, Go! 109: There — now you know what time it is. [...] The cuckoo bird said her piece.
[US]S. King Long Walk in Bachman Books (1995) 286: A party-down city full of a million boogying drunks and cuckoo birds and out-and-out maniacs.
cuckoo farm (n.) [farm n.1 ]

(US) a psychiatric institution.

[US]N. Algren Dev. Stocking 175: You ought to be on the cuckoo farm. You’re nutty as a fruitcake [HDAS].
cuckoo house (n.)

(US) a psychiatric institution.

[US]L. Sage Last Rustler 27: For one man to watch this place alone is enough to send him to the cuckoo house.
[US] in Time 5 Jan. 1942 50: Current favorite among her recordings: Doin’ a War Dance Down at the Cuckoo House [HDAS].
[US]N. Mailer Armies of the Night 239: Watch it, old buddy, they put junior reverends in the cuckoo house for carrying on.
[US]J.D. Horan Blue Messiah 119: He goes to the cuckoo house and we starve.
[US]State of Minnesota Court of Appeals 18 Dec. [Internet] J.S. further said that on several occasions Juarez would threaten to put him in a ‘cuckoo house’ if he told anybody what was going on.
cuckoo juice (n.) [juice n.1 (3a); its potency sends one crazy]

(US) strong liquor.

[US]La Motta, Carter & Savage Raging Bull 226: I nursed that beautiful container of cuckoo juice carefully.
cuckoo’s nest (n.)

(US) a psychiatric institution.

[US]k. Kesey [title] One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
[US]R. Atkinson Long Gray Line (1990) 327: Funny farm, loony bin, cuckoo’s nest, booby hatch, nut house, cracker box, psycho ward.

SE in slang uses

In compounds