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Is it "Cuckoo Clock" or "coo coo clock", or "cucu"? Let's find out!

The Cuckoo Clock Can Often have People Stumped


coo coo clock

One of the most common questions about cuckoo clocks, is just how do you spell 'cuckoo'. It’s understandable, especially to non-native German speakers. The sound that bird makes seems like it would be spelled “coo-coo” to most English speakers. Or even “ku ku” to German speakers.

It can appear all sorts of ways online:

  • koo koo
  • coco
  • cucoo
  • kuko
  • cockoo
  • cocu
  • co co
  • cucu

The English spelling is a cuckoo clock, although may opt for the more phonetic version of coo-coo clocks. This is due to the fact that the musical cuckoo call is nearly a major third musical interval. So, when English speakers form the sound coo coo the first sound of the “cukoo” is a higher pitched and shorter than the second sound.

The German spelling (and one could argue, the correct spelling because these clocks originate from Germany) is a bit different. “The correct German spelling is Kuckucksuhr. This shows pretty clearly why some people spell it kuku or kuko.”

Interesting note, in an actual cuckoo clock, the sounds are made with each their own bellow and emit from the back of the clock. 

Now, there is also a traditional Persian egg dish called kuku, and the French have an entirely different way to spell the cuckoo clock—all adding to the spelling confusion. The correct French spelling of cuckoo clock is coucou. Some of you who are a bit familiar with French may realize that is also the French word for “hello.” It is also their version of the game peek-a-boo. That is no coincidence! The term coucou was taken from the German cuckoo clocks!

No matter how you spell it, cuckoo clocks are known across the world as the signature call of the German Black Forest.

So, my question is: how do you spell 'cuckoo clock'? Leave your comment below. We'd love to see! :)