The Cooties were Originally Lice!

cootie South_Bend_News-Times,_April_7,_1922

That old childhood “disease” called “The Cooties” is part a game where a girl tags a boy or a boy tags a girl and says, “You got The Cooties!”

Of course, before getting touched and contracting The Cooties, the girls and boys try run away from each other. In some versions of the game, if your fingers are crossed when you get tagged, you can’t get The Cooties. There’s also a rhyme for getting immunized against The Cooties in advance called Circle, Circle, Dot, Dot.

The term “cooties” was first used by the British soldiers during World War I to refer to lice. According to Wikipedia, “The word is thought to originate from the Austronesian language family, in which the Philippine languages, Maori and Malaysian-Indonesian word kutu refers to a parasitic biting insect.”

The Cooties Game has different names in other countries…  In Italy, it’s called la peste (the plague). In Denmark, it’s called pigelus and drengelus meaning “girl lice” and “boy lice”. In Serbia the game is known as šuga (meaning scabies).

It’s interesting that “Cooties” became a childhood game around the world!

This article was posted on Tuesday, May 21st, 2019 at 8:16 pm and is filed under Countries & Cultures, England, English, Games Around the World, Indonesian, Languages, Made-up Childhood Diseases and Conditions, Malay, Mama Lisa, Maori, The Cooties, Tongan, USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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