If there was ever a word to give you that warm fuzzy feeling, Coucou is it. In French slang, it means bonjour or hello, but in an informal “my darling” kind of way. Originally meant as the English version of Peek-a-boo for young children, Coucou has grown beyond that initial sentiment. Today, it has become the French one-word version of “Hi my darling, how are you!?It’s been a while!” Pretty good for a word that is only 6 letters long, that sounds like a birdcall in a forest. Or rather, a cuckoo clock.
Other Words similar to Coucou
There are a lot of French informal words that end in the “ou” sound that you would be hard pressed to find in a dictionary: coucou, loulou, doudou, etc. Loulou is another way to say “my dear” , so you could say something like “coucou mes loulous!” to your kids, as an example.
Doudou, if you are wondering, is for the favorite toy of a child, and Nounou is the French word for Nanny. Children’s names can also be rounded off with the “ou” to become nicknames: such as Philou for Philip, or Lilou for Lily.
If you are noticing a trend with all these words revolving around children, you would not be wrong: it is a suffix of affection, especially around children, who find its vowel sounds easy to say. My kids learned very early on to proclaim their coucou‘s and doudou‘s.
Do all French people use the word “Coucou”?
Now to be clear, Coucou is a rather recent addition to the French dictionary. It is mostly used by young people, and more often by women rather than men. Two men will rarely greet each other with a Coucou. It is most often used when speaking to children to children or a loved one. Close friends, especially Parisienne women, never hesitate to use Coucou in speech or in email.
So next time instead of saying the very long “hello my dear, how are you”, etc etc, just let the Coucou(s) fly. I know, I know, I couldn’t resist!.