Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Any of various parrots of the family Cacatuidae of Australia and adjacent areas, characterized by a long erectile crest.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A somewhat contemptuous term applied to a small farmer in Australia.
  • noun The name of many beautiful birds of the parrot family, subfamily Cacatuinæ (which see), and especially of the genus Cacatua.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Zoöl.) A bird of the Parrot family, of the subfamily Cacatuinæ, having a short, strong, and much curved beak, and the head ornamented with a crest, which can be raised or depressed at will. There are several genera and many species; as the broad-crested cockatoo (Plictolophus cristatus or Cacatua cristatus), the sulphur-crested (Cacatua galerita or Plictolophus galeritus), etc. The palm cockatoo or great black cockatoo of Australia is Probosciger aterrimus (formerly Microglossus aterrimus).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A bird of the family Cacatuidae with a curved beak and a zygodactyl foot.
  • noun slang, obsolete A lookout posted during a two-up game.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun white or light-colored crested parrot of the Australian region; often kept as cage birds

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Dutch kaketoe, from Malay kakatua.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Malay burung kakaktua.

Examples

  • But everybody else had gone to "cockatoo" -- to sit on the top rail of the enclosure and look down at the maddened creatures, so at length he fastened his bridle to a tree and proceeded gingerly to follow their example.

    Seven Little Australians

  • Punishment is off-hand and severe; but the cockatoo is a sly bird, and often the fury of the fruit-grower expends itself in merely verbal explosions.

    Last Leaves from Dunk Island

  • Walking into a little room, we observed that besides the crocodile there were in it parrots of the species known as cockatoo, and also a group of monkeys in a special case in a recess.

    The Crocodile

  • A man who has a farm of 3,000 or 4,000 acres is called a cockatoo and a man with 20,000 acres is known as a selector.

    Thoughts About Canada and Australia

  • Herbert, who had been playing as busily as any of his cousins, began to notice that the cockatoo was a good deal afraid of the airy soap bubbles -- especially when they lighted on his back -- and so he took him off his perch as quietly as possible, not to disturb the game, and carried him away, to place him beside Mrs. Polly.

    The Cockatoo's Story

  • Shearing at any one shed only lasts a few weeks in the year; the number of men employed is according to the size of the shed -- from three to five men in the little bough-covered shed of the small "cockatoo," up to a hundred and fifty or two hundred hands all told in the big corrugated iron machine shed of a pastoral company.

    Children of the Bush

  • Then, as the miners left, the few "cockatoo" settlers followed them, or shifted in nearer to the town on the sea-coast with their horse and bullock teams, and an ominous silence began to fall upon the Flat when the tinkle of the cattle bells no longer was heard among the dark fringe of sighing she-oaks bordering the creek.

    "Chinkie's Flat" 1904

  • Government, for 2 pounds an acre; and if a "cockatoo" (i.e., a small farmer), or a speculator in mines, fancied any part of your property, he had only to go to the land office, and challenge your pre-emptive rights.

    Station Amusements

  • A large flock of galars, a slate-coloured kind of cockatoo, and a good talking bird, and hundreds of pigeons came to water at night; but having no ammunition, we did not bring a gun.

    Australia Twice Traversed, Illustrated,

  • While at this water we occasionally saw hawks, crows, corellas, a pink-feathered kind of cockatoo, and black magpies, which in some parts of the country are also called mutton birds, and pigeons.

    Australia Twice Traversed, Illustrated,

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