Cooee! (IPA /ku:'i:/) is a shout used in Australia, usually in the Bush, to attract attention, find missing people, or indicate one's own location. When done correctly - loudly and shrilly - a call of "cooee" can carry over a considerable distance.

The word "cooee" orginates from the Dharuk language of the original inhabitants of the Sydney area. It means "come here",[1] and has now become widely used in Australia as a call over distances. It was known among white settlers in colonial times and Watkin Tench refers to the Aborigines of Sydney calling to each other in this way.

One of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes mysteries hinges on the use of "cooee!". "The Boscombe Valley Mystery" is solved partly because, unlike everyone else, Holmes recognizes the call is commonly used among Australians.

An expression "within cooee of" has developed. It means "within a manageable distance", and seems to be confined to New Zealand and Australian English, and is often used in the negative sense (ie "not within cooee of" meaning not close to).

The word cooee has become a name of many organisations, places and even events. Perhaps the most historic of these was the Cooee March during the First World War. It was staged by 35 men from Gilgandra, New South Wales, 766 km northwest of Sydney, as a recruiting drive after enthusiasm for the war waned in 1915 with the first casualty lists. The men marched to Sydney calling "Cooee!" to encourage others to come and enlist. When they reached Sydney on 12 December, the group had grown to 277 men. To this day, Gilgandra holds a yearly Cooee Festival in October to commemorate the event. Other Cooee Festivals occur across Australia. Cooee is also the name of a suburb in the Tasmanian city of Burnie.

Richard White [2] indicates the important means of demonstrating Australian nationality with the call taking on a consciously nationalistic meaning. He also documents its spread through Empire, to New Zealand and South Africa.

See also


  1. ^ The Macquarie Concise Dictionary, The Macquarie Library, 1998, Sydney, ISBN 0949757950
  2. ^ "Cooees across the Strand: Australian Travellers in London and the Performance of National Identity" Australian Historical Studies 32(116) April 2001

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  • cooee — /ˈkui / (say koohee), /kuˈi / (say kooh ee) noun 1. a prolonged clear call, the second syllable of which rises rapidly in pitch, used most frequently in the bush as a signal to attract attention: *A cooee from over toward the homestead roused him …   Australian English dictionary

  • Cooee — Cooey Coo ey, Cooee Coo ee, v. i. [imp. & p. p. {Cooeyed} or {Cooeed}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Cooeying} or {Cooeeing}.] To call out cooee. [Australia] I cooeyed and beckoned them to approach. E. Giles. [Webster 1913 Suppl.] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Cooee — Cooey Coo ey, Cooee Coo ee, n. [Of imitative origin.] A peculiar cry uttered by the Australian aborigines as a call to attract attention, and also in common use among the Australian colonists. In the actual call the first syllable is much… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • cooee — I UK [ˈkuːiː] / US [ˈkuɪ] interjection British a word used for attracting someone s attention Cooee! she shouted. It s me! II UK [ˈkuːiː] / US [ˈkuɪ] noun Australian within cooee …   English dictionary

  • cooee — n., int., & v. colloq. n. & int. a sound used to attract attention, esp. at a distance. v.intr. (cooees, cooeed, cooeeing) make this sound. Phrases and idioms: within cooee (or a cooee) of Austral. & NZ colloq. very near to. Etymology: imit. of a …   Useful english dictionary

  • cooee — /kooh ee/, n., v., cooeed, cooeeing. n. 1. a prolonged, shrill, clear call or cry used as a signal by Australian Aborigines and adopted by the settlers in the country. v.i. 2. to utter the call cooee. [1780 90; < Dharuk gu wi] * * * …   Universalium

  • cooee — 1. noun /ˈkuːiː/ A long, loud call used to attract attention when at a distance, mainly done in the Australian bush. 2. verb /ˈkuːiː/ To make such a call. 3. interjection /ˈkuːiː/ <!also used outside Australia Used to attract someones… …   Wiktionary

  • cooee — n. prolonged shout uttered by the Australian aborigines to attract attention v. call out or shout the call cooee …   English contemporary dictionary

  • cooee — informal exclamation used to attract attention. verb (cooees, cooeeing, cooeed) make such a call. Phrases within cooee Austral./NZ within reach. Origin C18: imitative of a signal used by Australian Aboriginals and copied by settlers …   English new terms dictionary

  • Cooee — call for greeting or finding someone at a distance in the bush; someone calling out so that the voice will travel over a distance …   Dictionary of Australian slang

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