Definition of cockatoo in English:



  • 1A parrot with an erectile crest, found in Australia, eastern Indonesia, and neighbouring islands.

    • ‘Many parrots, macaws and cockatoos are also being driven close to extinction by international trade.’
    • ‘Like other cockatoos, the cockatiel has a retractable crest which it raises up and down in response to alarm, excitement and other emotions.’
    • ‘When living at the hotel on Thursday Island in 1891 he installed a cage of parrots and cockatoos on the verandah.’
    • ‘The foreign birds, most of these parrots and cockatoos, unfortunately need to be kept in cages.’
    • ‘Surprisingly, parrots and cockatoos can get jealous of other pets, so if there's a new animal in the house be patient whilst your bird gets used to the newcomer.’
  • 2Australian NZ informal A small-scale farmer.

  • 3Australian NZ informal A lookout posted by those engaged in illegal activity.

    ‘he is alleged to act as cockatoo during these meetings’
    • ‘They say the louts are working in twos and watching as you leave to go fishing, with one acting as a cockatoo back along the wall, watching for other approaching vehicles.’


Mid 17th century: from Dutch kaketoe, from Malay kakatua, the spelling influenced by cock. cockatoo cockatoo date from the 19th century.