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Ca. 1815 French satire on cuckoldry, which shows both men and women wearing horns.


From Middle English cokolde, cokewold, cockewold, kukwald, kukeweld, from Old French cucuault; a compound of cucu (cuckoo) (some varieties of the cuckoo bird lay their eggs in another’s nest) and Old French -auld. Cucu is either a directly derived onomatopoeic derivative of the cuckoo's call, or from Latin cucūlus. Latin cucūlus is a compound of onomatopoeic cucu (compare Late Latin cucus) and the diminutive suffix -ulus.

Old French -auld is from Frankish *-wald (similar suffixes are used in some personal names within other Germanic languages as well; compare English Harold, for instance), a suffixal use of Frankish *wald (wielder, ruler, leader), from Proto-Germanic *waldaz (compare German Gewalt, from the related *waldą (power, might)), from *waldaną (to rule), from Proto-Indo-European *h₂welh₁- (to be strong; to rule).

Appears in Middle English in noun form circa 1250 as cokewald. First known use of the verb form is 1589.


  • Rhymes: -əʊld
  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈkʌ.kəʊld/, /ˈkʌ.kəld/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈkʌ.koʊld/, /ˈkʌ.kəld/


cuckold (plural cuckolds)

  1. A man married to an unfaithful wife, especially when he is unaware or unaccepting of the fact.
    Synonyms: cornuto, cuck; see also Thesaurus:cuckold
    Coordinate terms: cuckquean; see also Thesaurus:cuckquean
    • 1546, François Rabelais, The Third Book, Chapter 36
      If I never marry, I shall never be a cuckold.
    • 2001, Goran V. Stanivukovic, Ovid and the Renaissance Body, page 178:
      In the early English drama, no play better approximates Ovid's contemptuous portrait of the willing cuckold than does Thomas Middleton's Chaste Maid in Cheapside (ca. 1612).
    • For quotations using this term, see Citations:cuckold.
  2. (fetishism) A man who is attracted to or aroused by the sexual infidelity of a partner.
  3. A West Indian plectognath fish, Rhinesomus triqueter.
  4. The scrawled cowfish, Acanthostracion quadricornis and allied species.


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cuckold (third-person singular simple present cuckolds, present participle cuckolding, simple past and past participle cuckolded)

  1. (transitive) To make a cuckold or cuckquean of someone by being unfaithful, or by seducing their partner or spouse.
    Synonyms: cuck, horn, hornify; see also Thesaurus:cuckoldize
    • 2008, Jeph Jacques, Questionable Content 1319: The Flimsiest of Logic[1]:
      Hey, I would never cuckold one of my friends. That’s way not cool.


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