As bald as a coot


What's the meaning of the phrase 'As bald as a coot'?

Completely bald.

What's the origin of the phrase 'As bald as a coot'?

Coots are water birds whose heads have the appearance of baldness. This doesn’t refer to the lack of feathers on the bird’s head, but to their white markings. ‘Bald’ has several meanings, one of which is ‘streaked or marked with white’. That’s the meaning here, as in ‘piebald’, used to describe the black and white markings of a horse or other animal.

The phrase is very old and is referred to in John Lydgate’s Chronicle of Troy, 1430:

“And yet he was as balde as is a coote.”

See other ‘as x as y similes‘.

Trend of as bald as a coot in printed material over time

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

Gary Martin

Writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.