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Cuckoo's Nest

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Daffodil100, Mar 8, 2010.

  1. Daffodil100

    Daffodil100 Senior Member

    Chinese
    I watched an American film titled One Flew over Cuckoo's Nest. What does Cuckoo's Nest mean? Does it refer to lunatic house in English? I didn't find a good answer from the internet research as well as my dictionary.

    Thanks.
     
  2. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    Cuckoo is American slang for crazy. Cuckoo's Nest, in the film, refers to an insane asylum. That usage is limited, as far as I know, to that movie. In other words, people do not generally call an insane asylum a cuckoo's nest. In other uses, 'cuckoo's nest' would be the nest of the bird, Cuculus canorus.
     
  3. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
  4. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    Texas
    English - US
    The title was taken from an old nursery rhyme which is no longer commonly heard:
     
  5. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    It's curious to note that a cuckoo does not, ever, build a nest.
    It lays its egg in the nest of another bird.
    There is, therefore, no such thing as a cuckoo's nest.

    (NB: This is based on the traditional UK view of cuckoos. I suspect there are other varieties round the world that do, in fact, build their own nests.)
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2010
  6. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    Do birds not share the fine tradition of "squatters' rights"?

    According to Wikipedia...
    Cuckoo chicks methodically evict all host progeny from host nests. It is a much larger bird than its hosts, and needs to monopolise the food supplied by the parents. The Cuckoo chick will roll the other eggs out of the nest by pushing them with its back over the edge. If the Reed Warbler's eggs hatch before the Cuckoo's egg, the Cuckoo chick will push the other chicks out of the nest in a similar way.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Cuckoo


    Amazing what one can learn about Cuculus by patronizing these forums. ;)

    The Wiki article about the Common_Cuckoo suggests indirectly that there are other cuckoos that are not brood parasites:

     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2010
  7. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    OK, you're going to tell me that by the time the cuckoo has done the business it owns the nest, despite having no part in the construction.
    Grumble, grumble.
     
  8. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    It evicts all the young "legal tenants", dead or alive. I don't know how the body of Cuculus law interprets such actions in terms of nest ownership. :)
     
  9. Cagey post mod

    California
    English - US
    In addition to all the lore about cuckoos, and on a far lower plane, for instance in school grounds and lowbrow gossip, cuckoo means "crazy" in AmE.

    See: Is the sound "cuckoo" insulting somehow??

    Edit: Sorry, cuchu, for having missed your post.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2010
  10. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    There. Now all you doubters have been double-teamed. :D
     
  11. Jam on toast

    Jam on toast Senior Member

    UK
    British English
    Triple-teamed, I guess: cuckoo can mean crazy in British English as well. The accusation is often accompanied by a gormless expression and a twirling of the fingers near the ear.

    Very interesting to hear the origin, Myridon. I presume that the meaning, in the rhyme, of "one [goose] flew over the cuckoo's nest" implies that it flew off into the unknown?
     
  12. Daffodil100

    Daffodil100 Senior Member

    Chinese
    Thank you for your help.
     

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