Created By: KZN02 on September 13, 2012 Last Edited By: KZN02 on November 14, 2012
Troped

Cuckold Horns

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Trope
Symbolic horns as a visual shorthand to indicate a man whose wife cheats on him.

Also note that the common word for cuckold in several European languages literally means "horned"; the Italian word "cornuto" is one example.
Anime and Manga
  • In the first episode of Adventures Of Mini Goddess, this is used as a joke: Urd is trying to help a small rat get a wife, and sets him up with an appliance of some kind. However, the appliance says that she was in love with another kitchen appliance, and the two run off together, leaving the rat standing by himself, with the shadow of a cow and horns extending from his body.

Comic Books
  • Oberon had these in the Sandman story which riffed on A Midsummer Night's Dream, because his wife Titania was cheating on him.
  • A comic by Walter Moers has a man (depicted literally wearing horns) s doing a walk and wonders why he always has to leave when his wife's brother is visiting her. In a later scene he wonders why she's wearing sexy underwear for her brother, but not for him. Then he remembers that she has no brother - and still doesn't make the connection, only thinking "women are odd".

Jokes
  • A woman gave birth to a black boy while her husband was away. She writes him:
    "My dear. I gave birth to a boy. However, I had lactation problems, so the baby was nursed by an Ethiopian. You won't believe it, but the baby turned black."
    • The husband is amazed. He writes to his mum about that. Soon after, he receives a reply:
    "Dear son. When you were born, I, likewise, had lactation problems, and you were nursed by a cow, but it wasn't until now that you grew horns."

Literature
  • Angels & Demons has a paragraph or two where Langdon notes that the symbology of this (keeping in mind who wrote it) means that it's actually a compliment to the one you're bunny ears-ing's virility.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, King Robert's banner is a stag, which leads to multiple puns when it comes out that his queenly wife cheated on him.
  • In Max Shulman's novel Rally Round the Flag, Boys!, Harry Bannerman, who feels guilty about his affair with his boss's wife, at one especially nervous moment imagines twelve-foot horns protruding from his boss's forehead.
  • The short story My Private Memoirs of the Hoffer Stigmata Pandemic, in which a pandemic makes people's sins externally manifest in the form of various facial deformations, has a variant; Fleshy blood-horns represent adultery, but they appear on the adulterer, not the cuckold.
  • Mentioned in Letters To His Son; from letter CLXXXVI: "A prudent cuckold (and there are many such at Paris) pockets his horns when he cannot gore with them; and will not add to the triumph of his maker by only butting with them ineffectually."

Live-Action TV
  • In an episode of How I Met Your Mother that was on this afternoon this is referenced by The Captain when he and his wife are splitting up. He says "I wear the horns of the cuckold" in the belief that she is in love with someone else.

Sports
  • The "Hook 'Em Horns" gesture beloved among Texas Longhorns fans is a way of invoking the cornuto in Italy, and is a very grave insult in that country, to the point where brawls have broken out over it.

Theater
  • This was a favorite symbolism of William Shakespeare. In The Merry Wives of Windsor, when Ford, disguised as Master Brook, encourages Falstaff to go after his wife, Falstaff boasts that he will put the cuckold's horns on Ford and later mockingly describes him as a "peaking cornuto." Ford vows revenge on him: "If I have horns to make one mad, let the proverb go with me--I'll be horn mad." The wives con Falstaff into meeting them in Windsor Forest disguised as Herne the Hunter, the Horned Humanoid of myth. When Falstaff has been properly humiliated in his horned disguise, Ford points to the horns and tells him, "Now, sir, who's a cuckold now?"
  • In Tennessee Williams' play The Rose Tattoo, after two gossips disclose to Serafina that her late husband had an affair with another women, she angrily and repeatedly denies it, saying that her husband would not have put "the nanny-goat's horns" on her head. There is also an actual goat that is troubling her.
    • In Camino Real Casanova has become a Ladykiller in Love, having fallen for Marguerite from La Dame aux Camelias and is crowned "King of the Cuckolds" during the festival. He weeps and shouts "Cornuto!" over and over.

Video Games
  • All the sheep in Catherine have ram horns. Subverted in that not EVERYONE experiencing the nightmares is actually cheating on someone else.

Western Animation
  • On The Simpsons, cuckold horns are handed out at a performance of Shakespeare in the Park. When a man puts them on and his date starts kissing the man next to her, he says "It works!"

Real Life
  • When VW launched the sunroof option for the Beetle in Brazil it sold well initially until a joke spread that it was to make room for the driver's horns. Sales tanked, the option was withdrawn and some owners even demanded the sunroof be filled in. Some years later, the Brazilian Ford Maverick's emblems had to be modified to remove the horned cow head of the US model.

Rolling Updates

Community Feedback Replies: 30
  • September 14, 2012
    Prfnoff
    This was a favorite symbolism of William Shakespeare. In The Merry Wives Of Windsor, when Ford, disguised as Master Brook, encourages Falstaff to go after his wife, Falstaff boasts that he will put the cuckold's horns on Ford and later mockingly describes him as a "peaking cornuto." Ford vows revenge on him: "If I have horns to make one mad, let the proverb go with me--I'll be horn mad." The wives con Falstaff into meeting them in Windsor Forest disguised as Herne the Hunter, the Horned Humanoid of myth. When Falstaff has been properly humiliated in his horned disguise, Ford points to the horns and tells him, "Now, sir, who's a cuckold now?"
  • September 14, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    Okay, I am really lost. What the heck is this about?
  • September 14, 2012
    KZN02
    Well, originally this was part of bunny ears prank, but then people said to split it.
  • September 14, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ That doesn't explain what the term means.
  • September 15, 2012
    Koveras
    ^ Symbolic horns as a visual shorthand to indicate a man whose wife cheats on him.

    • In A Song Of Ice And Fire, King Robert's banner is a stag, which leads to multiple puns when it comes out that his queenly wife cheated on him.
  • September 15, 2012
    Prfnoff
    In Tennessee Williams' play The Rose Tattoo, after two gossips disclose to Serafina that her late husband had an affair with another women, she angrily and repeatedly denies it, saying that her husband would not have put "the nanny-goat's horns" on her head. There is also an actual goat that is troubling her.

    Also note that the common word for cuckold in several European languages literally means "horned"; the Italian word "cornuto" is one example.
  • September 15, 2012
    Chabal2
  • September 16, 2012
    Xtifr
    ^ And does that have anything to do with him being a cuckold? Because otherwise, you're in the wrong trope.

    This is primarily a medieval/renaissance trope; appearances in modern fiction will generally be historical references.
  • September 19, 2012
    randomsurfer

  • September 19, 2012
    DRCEQ
    All the sheep in Catherine have ram horns. Subverted in not EVERYONE experiencing the nightmares is actually cheating one someone else.
  • September 20, 2012
    Prfnoff
    In Max Shulman's novel Rally Round the Flag, Boys!, Harry Bannerman, who feels guilty about his affair with his boss's wife, at one especially nervous moment imagines twelve-foot horns protruding from his boss's forehead.
  • September 25, 2012
    Duncan
    Another Tennessee Williams example- in Camino Real Casanova has become a Ladykiller In Love, having fallen for Marguerite from La Dame aux Camelias and is crowned "King of the Cuckolds" during the festival. He weeps and shouts "Cornuto!" over and over.
  • September 27, 2012
    Omeganian
    There is a Russian joke about a man who comes to a doctor and complains that his wife is cheating on him, but no horns are growing. When the doctor explains it's no more than a metaphor, the man says "Thank God! I thought I might have calcium shortage".

    As a note, the metaphor is quite alive in Russia, so the trope is more common there.

    How I Met Your Mother that was on this afternoon this is referenced by The Captain when he and his wife are splitting up. He says "I wear the horns of the cuckold" in the belief that she is in love with someone else.
  • September 27, 2012
    NimmerStill
    ^^^That's a joke? Jeez, no wonder Russians are depressed.
  • September 30, 2012
    halfstep
    In the first episode of "The Adventures of Mini-Goddess", this is used as a joke: Urd is trying to help a small rat get a wife, and sets him up with an appliance of some kind. However, the appliance says that she was in love with another kitchen appliance, and the two run off together, leaving the rat standing by himself, with the shadow of a cow and horns extending from his body.
  • October 1, 2012
    TonyG
    On The Simpsons, cuckold horns are handed out at a performance of Shakespeare in the Park. When a man puts them on and his date starts kissing the man next to her, he says "It works!"
  • October 9, 2012
    TwoGunAngel
    The "Hook 'Em Horns" gesture beloved among Texas Longhorns fans is a way of invoking the cornuto in Italy, and is a very grave insult in that country, to the point where brawls have broken out over it.
  • October 9, 2012
    Delphi
    The short story My Private Memoirs of the Hoffer Stigmata Pandemic, in which a pandemic makes people's sins externally manifest in the form of various facial deformations, has a variant; Fleshy blood-horns represent adultery, but they appear on the adulterer, not the cuckold.
  • October 12, 2012
    acrobox
    Real Life: The origin of Bunny Ears and Moose Antlers behind someones head. Though the meaning is lost on most people and they think its just to make others look silly when they're not paying attention. Or taking pictures.
  • October 16, 2012
    NimmerStill
    ^See the other thread and The Other Wiki; this is not confirmed.
  • October 22, 2012
    Frank75
    Mentioned in Letters To His Son (not a page yet, but I want to make one). From letter CLXXXVI: "A prudent cuckold (and there are many such at Paris) pockets his horns when he cannot gore with them; and will not add to the triumph of his maker by only butting with them ineffectually."
  • October 22, 2012
    KZN02
    Eh, what medium is that example from?
  • October 23, 2012
    Frank75
    Literature.
  • October 23, 2012
    shimaspawn
    The Shakespeare example still hasn't been listed.
  • October 26, 2012
    KZN02
    Added
  • November 1, 2012
    MaxSinister
    A comic by Walter Moers. A man (depicted literally wearing horns) s doing a walk and wonders why he always has to leave when his wife's brother is visiting her. In a later scene he wonders why she's wearing sexy underwear for her brother, but not for him. Then he remembers that she has no brother - and still doesn't make the connection, only thinking "women are odd".
  • November 2, 2012
    Omeganian
    Another joke:

    A woman gave birth to a black boy while her husband was away. She writes him:

    "My dear. I gave birth to a boy. However, I had lactation problems, so the baby was nursed by an Ethiopian. You won't believe it, but the baby turned black."

    The husband is amazed. He writes to his mum about that. Soon after, he receives a reply:

    "Dear son. When you were born, I, likewise, had lactation problems, and you were nursed by a cow, but it wasn't until now that you grew horns."
  • November 2, 2012
    Arivne
    Edit: This post has been edited by Arivne to add a line under pictures that were breaking YKTTW. Original poster was nlpnt. nlpnt, to put your name back on this post just edit it in any way, such as by deleting this paragraph.

    More Real Life examples; when VW launched the sunroof option for the Beetle in Brazil it sold well initially until a joke spread that it was to make room for the driver's horns. Sales tanked, the option was withdrawn and some owners even demanded the sunroof be filled in. Some years later, the Brazilian Ford Maverick's emblems had to be modified to remove the horned cow head of the US model.

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http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=ev40gfz9vacfpbjagog2lvag&trope=CuckoldHorns