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bird - Wiktionary


Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary Jump to navigation Jump to search See also: Bird



Bird (disambiguation) on Wikipedia Picture dictionary bird of prey parrot passerine ratite seabird shorebird waterfowl


Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English brid, from Old English bird, brid, bridd (“young bird, chick”), of uncertain origin and relation.


bird (plural birds)

  1. A member of the class of animals Aves in the phylum Chordata, characterized by being warm-blooded, having feathers and wings usually capable of flight, and laying eggs.
    Ducks and sparrows are birds.
    • 2004, Bruce Whittington, Loucas Raptis, Seasons with Birds, page 50:
      The level below this is called the Phylum; birds belong to the Phylum Chordata, which includes all the vertebrate animals (the sub-phylum Vertebrata) and a few odds and ends.
  2. (slang) A man, fellow. [from the mid-19th c.]
    • 1886, Edmund Routledge, Routledge's every boy's annual
      He once took in his own mother, and was robbed by a 'pal,' who thought he was a doctor. Oh, he's a rare bird is 'Gentleman Joe'!
    • 1939, Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep, Penguin 2011, page 24:
      The door opened and a tall hungry-looking bird with a cane and a big nose came in neatly, shut the door behind him against the pressure of the door closer, marched over to the desk and placed a wrapped parcel on the desk.
    • 2006, Jeff Fields, Terry Kay, A cry of angels
      "Ah, he's a funny bird," said Phaedra, throwing a leg over the sill.
  3. (Britain, US, slang) A girl or woman, especially one considered sexually attractive.
    • Campbell
      And by my word! the bonny bird / In danger shall not tarry.
    • 2013, Russell Brand, Russell Brand and the GQ awards: 'It's amazing how absurd it seems' (in The Guardian, 13 September 2013)[1]
      The usual visual grammar was in place – a carpet in the street, people in paddocks awaiting a brush with something glamorous, blokes with earpieces, birds in frocks of colliding colours that if sighted in nature would indicate the presence of poison.
    • 2017, David Weigel, The Show That Never Ends: The Rise and Fall of Prog Rock, W. W. Norton & Company.
      “All these fantastic birds, long hair, made up, false eyelashes and things, crowding round this group of scabby, spotty teenagers,” marveled Anderson.
  4. (Britain, Ireland, slang) Girlfriend. [from the early 20th c.]
    Mike went out with his bird last night.
    • 2002, Mike Skinner (lyrics), “Geezers need excitement”, in Original Pirate Material, performed by The Streets:
      But all of a sudden though, just through the smoke / It's your bird laughing and joking with a bloke / Ain't just that either, as she moves closer / In a shape what looks like they're lovers, he's tonguing her!
  5. (slang) An airplane.
  6. (slang) A satellite.
    • 1988, Satellite communications. Jan-Oct. 1988
      Deployment of the fourth bird "should ensure that Inmarsat has sufficient capacity in orbit in the early 1990s, taking into account the possibility of launch failures and the age of some of the spacecraft in the Inmarsat first generation system
    • 1992, Cable Vision
      Will a government- backed APSTAR satellite knock out a planned AsiaSat II bird?
    • 2015, John Fuller, Thor's Legions: Weather Support to the U.S. Air Force and Army, 1937-1987, Springer →ISBN, page 384
      In reality, the Air Force was never able to place a bird in orbit that quickly.
  7. (obsolete) A chicken; the young of a fowl; a young eaglet; a nestling.
    • Shakespeare
      That ungentle gull, the cuckoo's bird.
    • Tyndale (Matt. viii. 20)
      The brydds [birds] of the aier have nestes.
Derived terms[edit]
Terms derived from bird
animal person woman girlfriend
See also[edit]


bird (third-person singular simple present birds, present participle birding, simple past and past participle birded)

  1. (intransitive) To observe or identify wild birds in their natural environment.
  2. (intransitive) To catch or shoot birds.
  3. (intransitive, figuratively) To seek for game or plunder; to thieve.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Ben Jonson to this entry?)

Etymology 2[edit]

Originally Cockney rhyming slang, shortened from bird-lime for "time"


bird (uncountable)

  1. (slang) A prison sentence.
    He’s doing bird.


bird (third-person singular simple present birds, present participle birding, simple past and past participle birded)

  1. (transitive, slang) To bring into prison, to roof.
    • 2017, ZK & Digga D (lyrics), CDM (music), “No Hook”:
      Free Criminal, he got birded
      That's a L but I know he’ll firm it
      I was vexed when I heard that verdict
time in prison

Etymology 3[edit]

Dated in the mid‐18th Century; derived from the expression “to give the big bird”, as in “to hiss someone like a goose”.


the bird (uncountable)

  1. The vulgar hand gesture in which the middle finger is extended.
    • 2002, The Advocate, "Flying fickle finger of faith", page 55.
      For whatever reason — and there are so many to chose from — they flipped the bird in the direction of the tinted windows of the Bushmobile.
    • 2003, James Patterson and Peter De Jonge, The Beach House, Warner Books, page 305,
      Then she raised both hands above her shoulders and flipped him the bird with each one.
Derived terms[edit]
vulgar hand gesture

Etymology 4[edit]

A calque from various Asian languages that use "bird" as a slang term for "penis", including Malay burung, Chinese , and Tagalog ibon.


bird (plural birds)

  1. (Asian slang) A penis.



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