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What Are “Cooties”?

QUESTION:
Brian in the U.S. asked: What are “cooties”? I watch “Arthur,” the cartoon (show with animation (drawings)), every morning, and the characters often say, “You have cooties!” but I do not understand! Please help!

ANSWER:
Cooties are imaginary (not real) germs. Germs are the very, very small living things that we can’t see, but that can cause disease or illness.  To insult (to treat with disrespect) someone, you could say that they have cooties. Children like to say this to people they don’t like.  Like the word “germs,” we nearly always use “cooties” as a plural noun, almost never as a singular noun. Adults don’t usually use the word “cooties” unless they were trying to be funny.

~ Lucy

11 Responses to “What Are “Cooties”?”

  1. Fred Says:

    Germs are like a little pets … :-O

    t h a n k y o u v e r y m u c h

  2. ESL Podcast Google Group Says:

    wow, if someone ask me if I have cooties I would think it ask me if I have cookies….

    thks

  3. elcomandant Says:

    Absolutly not. I don’t agree. The Cooties are real. They exist. They are all around, in the house, in the street, flying, in the sea. Some living with us in our house and they are very naughty.
    When you spill the water it’s sure that they are. When you drop a plate and breaks, it’s sure that they are. When you don’t find something, they’ve hid it.
    Yes, you can be sure that the Cooties” are real. It will be better that you behave well with them.

  4. Wilma Says:

    Thank you Lucy, but the cooties exist! They are invisible nasty germs that torment our lives. As elcomandant said “the Cooties are real”. It reminded me a proberv in Spanish which could be translated into English as “I do not believe in ghosts, but one thing is for real: they exist”
    I think that in Spanish it is: “Jo no lo creo en las brujas, pero que las hay, las hay”.
    Where is Emiliano? I think he knows how to write in Spanish. I am sure that “The Cooties” are “las Brujas”, cruel creatures! Let’s kill them all in case we see them.

    Wilma (from São Paulo – Brazil)

  5. Richard Says:

    Hi everyone,
    very interesting word. I try it in my favorite dictionary and what it say:
    n. Slang
    A body louse. (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/cooties)
    I think a little confused, if Loucy be wrong? Impossible! I try this word in google and what? The whole article in Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooties.
    Than cooties both exist and don’t. Two different type of cooties, but cooties given in question realy don’t exist (according to Loucy and Wikipedia). Uff.
    Regards,
    Richard

  6. elcomandant Says:

    Hi Wilma, I don’t know where is Emiliano, but I’m Spaniard and in Spain we say: “Las brujas no existen, pero haberlas haylas”. I hope to have helped you and look after yourself of the Cooties.

  7. Dr. Lucy Tse Says:

    “Cooties” are imaginary things that children believe transfers easily from one person to another through casual contact. Most people, Jeff and me included, believe them to be imaginary germs. Could they be lice (plural of “louse”)? Sure. They’re imaginary, so we can imagine them to be anything we want.

    germs =real
    lice = real
    cooties = not real (unless I’m 8-years-old, you’re trying to touch me, and I don’t like you. Then, they are very real to me–just like ghosts!)

    ~ Lucy

  8. emiliano Says:

    Yes, as elcomandant says, that’s is very true question, and in Galicia (a celtic little country in spain) more certain than every other place….”No creo en las brujas pero haberlas haylas” and certainly that they exist some way……I am always saying that expresion as my grandfather was from Galicia. And of course Cooties does exist everywhere…..but not always they are present it depends of the wether, the feeling, or the bad luck of everyone sometimes. And we can’t go agaist them because they
    are very powerfull.
    I think that other places just tall the cooties as “HADOS” and they are usually in favour or agaist you it depends of the day. I feel clearly when they are against and I am
    scared just to do anything because it is certain that it should be a desaster.

  9. emiliano Says:

    Sorry, I forget that in Galicia the witches are “MEIGAS”, and the Galic people say “I don’t belive in MEIGAS but they do exist” (Yo no creo en las Meigas, pero existir?….existen).
    Thank you Wilma for remember me, I am from Madrid, but as I told before my grandfather was born in Galicia, and of course he speaks in Gallego.

  10. Wilma Says:

    Hi Emiliano
    Hi Elcomandante,
    Thank you very much for your kind answers. I am from São Paulo, Brazil and sometimes we, here, think that Spanish is easy! You see.. I made many mistakes when I tried to write the sentence (popular saying) about Las Brujas. Thank you Elcomandante, I am running away from the Cooties.
    I highly enjoy this possibility given to us by Dr. Lucy and Dr. Jeff. We, not only learn on what they write, but we also have a good time, have fun, sometimes we even laugh on some answers. I believe that communications is kind of a “miracle”, we start with a specific subject and after ten replies we are talking about ghosts, witches, louse, lice, isn’t it fun?
    Emiliano, I loved to know that MEIGAS mean witches for the Galic people. In Portuguese, MEIGA is a very polite, sensitive, refined and beautiful girl/woman. I wish I could read about or visit all that different cultures. For the time being, let’s exchange our “knowledge” here. Warmest Regards!

  11. Brian Says:

    Thanks for answering my question!