Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to: navigation, search


A call from the Dardanelles "Coo-ee, won't YOU come?".jpg
Camping in sub-tropical forest around Cairns, ca. 1907 (3760143269).jpg

Alternative forms[edit]


From Dharug guuu-wi adopted into English by white settlers in Australia from 1790.[1]


  • enPR: ko͞o'ē, IPA(key): /ˈkuːiː/
    In making the call, the first syllable may be quite elongated; the second is relatively short.


cooee (plural cooees)

  1. (Australia, informal, onomatopoeia) A long, loud call used to attract attention when at a distance, mainly done in the Australian bush.
    • 2002, Andrew Parkin, A Thing Apart[1], page 195:
      I call out, “Coo-ee” with long Coo and short ee like whip-bird call. Everybody in my mob know my cooee. Any one of my mob hear that, they give me cooee back.
      I listen.
      No cooee come back.
    • 2006, Saskia Beudel, Walking: West MacDonnell Ranges 2002, in Drusilla Modjeska, The Best Australian Essays 2006, page 309,
      Just as I was preparing to write in my exercise book, I heard a cooee. Cooees were not part of the code.
  2. (Australia, informal, with "within", also figuratively) A short distance; hailing distance.
    • 1996, australian House of Representatives, Parliamentary Debates Australia[2], volume 207, page 1469:
      That is not within cooee of 10 per cent; it is much closer to six per cent.
    • 1999, Tony Shillitoe, Joy Ride[3], page 136:
      We were carless, in the dark, and no one to help within cooee.



cooee (third-person singular simple present cooees, present participle cooeeing, simple past and past participle cooeed)

  1. (intransitive, Australia, informal) To make such a call.
    • 2001, Robert Holden, Nicholas Holden, Bunyips: Australia's Folklore of Fear, page 65,
      ‘Look out for snakes,’ said Long Charlie, flourishing his lantern. ‘And don′t all of us be coo-eeing all the time, or when the little chap sings out we shan't be able to hear him.’
    • 2003, Les Hughes, A Young Australian Pioneer: Henry Mundy[4], page 225:
      Slipping out of the tail of the dray, I cooeed as loud as I could which was answered.
    • 2006, Saskia Beudel, Walking: West MacDonnell Ranges 2002, in Drusilla Modjeska, The Best Australian Essays 2006, page 310,
      I cooeed back. Another cooee came in what seemed to be a reply. I cooeed again.




  1. (informal, chiefly Australia, Britain) Used to attract someone's attention.
    Cooee! I'm over here!
    • 1894, Temple Bar, Volume 183, page 587,
      Then, raising her hands to her lips she utters a long, loud, piercing " Cooee ! "
      " Coo — ee ! " comes back over the black waters.
    • 2001, June E. Barker, First Platypus, Gaygar—The Little Mother Duck, in Helen F. McKay (editor), Pauline E. McLeod, Francis Firebrace Jones, June E. Barker, Gadi Mirrabooka: Australian Aboriginal Tales from the Dreaming, page 58,
      Gaygar could hear her people cooee out to her, "COOEE, GAYGAR! COOEE, GAYGAR!" they would cry.



  1. ^ R. M. W. Dixon, Australian Aboriginal Words, Oxford University Press, 1990, ↑ISBN, page 208.