Slang/jargon use of Chook

To: Paul Doyle <>
Subject: Slang/jargon use of Chook
From: Penny Brockman <>
Date: Tue, 03 Feb 2009 10:24:38 +1100
Further to Paul's comment below, as a child we always kept chickens in south-east England and when feeding them, called just as he describes but we never called them chooks. I always thought it was in imitation of the hen calling her chicks - but my rendition makes the first calls shorter and sharper, more 'chueck' (not chuck) followed by a longer 'choooook'. First came across 'chooks' meaning chickens when in Sydney.
Hi all,

I know James has said he is not interested in the use of 'chook' in the meaning of 'chicken' but this is for anyone is interested in the etymology of 'chook' in that sense.

It seems to me that most people assume that the word chook is a modification of the word chicken, but I am not sure this is the case.

I grew up in Ireland and while not a native Irish (i.e. 'Gaelic') speaker, there were numerous Irish words which had survived into common daily usage. As a little lad I (and everyone else in Ireland who had chickens) would call the chickens for feeing by repeatedly calling the word 'tioc' which is the Irish for 'come' and pronounced 'chook'. Nobody referred to the chickens as chooks, though: it was just the word used to call them. The chickens were well acclimatised to this and would know it was feeding time when they heard that call.

(Now that I think about it, amuses me to remember that people would commonly stretch out occasional 'tioc' so that the effect was a 'chooooook, chook, chook, chook, chook, choooooook, chook, chook etc. etc. with the result of actually sounding like a chicken.)

This bit is pure speculation but I imagine that the early Irish keepers of chickens in Aus used the same call, and non-Irish speaking locals may have thought they were calling the chickens 'chooks' rather than calling TO the chickens to 'come' for their meal.



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