Kook (1960)

Page Stephens hpst at EARTHLINK.NET
Thu Oct 27 15:27:11 UTC 2005

I suspect that the origins of the word "kook" may be the outcome of a
process which involves all of the information Larry and Barry have given us.

Radio Australia used the call of the kookaburra as their identification
sign on. I haven't heard the call of the cuckoo for many years but when I
was growing up in southern Illinois I used to love to hear its call at
twilight time.

My guess is that there is no single origin for the term "kook" but that it
is the outcome of a variety of linguistic streams which came together as a
coincidence and then reinforced each other and eventually became
amalgamated to the point where they ended up becoming consolidated in a
single word.

Anyone have any better explanation?

Page Stephens

PS. The song of the kookaburra does sound like human laughter.

> [Original Message]
> From: Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Date: 10/26/2005 8:53:12 PM
> Subject: Re: Kook (1960)
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Kook (1960)
> >I just came across (still cleaning this mess of a home, under orders of
> >occupant) TRUE, November 1966, pg. 92, col. 2: "It stems from the
> >word  'Kukai' which means excrement. Surfers picked up the term and
> >applied it to
> >  troublemakers and hangers-on who never went near the water. Its
> >spread and it now denotes all offbeats and deadbeats."
> >...
> >Interesting, but I'll still go with "cuckoo."
> >...
> seems safe enough, but if you're feeling more adventurous, HDAS also
> sports a "cf. KOOKABOO" under _KOOK_, which in turn is glossed as 'a
> crazy person' and is a "poss. alter. of _kookaburra_ 'Australian bird
> whose call resembles human laughter', infl. by CUCKOO".  I guess the
> "kookaburra" part is there because of the K in KOOK.
> Larry
> >...
> >(OED)
> >kook
> >[prob. abbrev. of _CUCKOO_
> >uckoo&ps=a.)  a. or  _CUCKOO_
> >d=cuckoo&ps=n.)  n.  3.]
> >1. A  cranky, crazy, or eccentric person. Freq. attrib. or as adj.
> >1960  Daily Mail 22 Aug.  4/5 A kook, Daddy-O, is a screwball who is
> >farther than  most. 1963  Time 4 Oct. 37 'Don't think that  just because
> >talked about those way-out rockets he's a kook,' cautioned a  fellow
> >1964  Economist 28 Nov. 969/2  Thousands of 'beatniks, kooks, and
> >1965  _J.  POTTS_
> >Only Good Secretary (1966) ii. 26 Max is kind of a kook. He paints these
> >pictures. 1968  _MRS. L. B.  JOHNSON_
> >(http://dictionary.oed.com/help/bib/oed2-j.html#mrs-l-b-johnson)
> >White House Diary 18 Jan. (1970) 623 Mrs.
> >Hughes..said..'I think that anybody who takes pot because  there is
> >a war on is a kook.'
> >1968  N.Y. Times 26 Mar. 32 'Has it  ever occurred to you that the kook
> >market has grown?' said a United States auto  executive when asked
> >to explain the
> >growing sales of foreign cars. 1970  E. R. JOHNSON  God Keepers (1971)
xv. 166
> >It's  a kook clique all right. It's..a happy place. That's kooks to you
> >1971  Black World June 67/1 These  marchers were all probably a bunch of
> >like Harry always said. 1973  Publishers Weekly 25 June 68/1 A  bona fide
> >kook who is never quite able to get in gear till he finally dies
paddling his
> >canoe across the Atlantic.
> >2.  orig. U.S. A novice, or one who is inexpert, in surf-riding. Also
> >attrib.
> >1961  in Amer. Speech (1962) XXXVII. 150.  1966  Surfer VII. 9 This
letter is
> >to  protest about dumb kook girls out in the water. Ibid. 17 All most of
> >[these surfers] are is a bunch of loud-mouthed kooks  who come down here
> >clutter up the beach. Ibid. 39 Malibu..was also the birthplace of
> >the 'kook box',
> >that  monstrosity known as the poor man's paddle board. 1971  Studies in
> >English (Univ. of Cape Town) II. 25 The reason for this reticence is
> >that surfers
> >wish to  differentiate themselves from kooks, who surf badly.
> >...
> >...
> >S=1130365742&clientId=65882)
> >New York Times (1857-Current  file). New York, N.Y.: Feb 28, 1960. p.
SM94 (1
> >page)
> >_kook._ One who is cuckoo; a nut.
> >...
> >_Article  7 -- No Title; Cool--and Dedicated _
> >Name=HNP&TS=1130365962&clientId=65882)
> >JOHN FINK.  Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1963). Chicago, Ill.: Nov  12,
> >p. C6 (2 pages)
> >...some call "kooks"--strange in look and  behavior--...

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