Definition of bird in English:

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Pronunciation: /bəːd/


1A warm-blooded egg-laying vertebrate animal distinguished by the possession of feathers, wings, a beak, and typically by being able to fly.
  • Class Aves; birds probably evolved in the Jurassic period from small dinosaurs that may already have been warm-blooded.
Example sentences
  • I am currently using turkey feathers to fletch with, after spending half a day on a commercial turkey farm plucking wing feathers as the birds went into the slaughter house.
  • With a three-foot wingspan and two long, streaming tail feathers, these birds are easy to recognize.
  • Such cases of female competition and aggression have been noted in many birds and other vertebrates.
songbird, warbler, passerine;
bird of prey, raptor;
chick, fledgling, nestling;
(birds) avifauna
informal feathered friend, birdie
1.1A bird that is hunted for sport or used for food: carve the bird and arrange on a warmed serving plate
More example sentences
  • Moisten the top of the bird with olive oil and then season with thyme, rosemary, oregano, salt, pepper and a few pinches of cayenne.
  • Then they collected the eggs they didn't eat and stored them in casks, and they killed birds for both food and sport.
  • There were also clan-specific food taboos on particular birds and wild animals.
1.2 informal, chiefly North American An aircraft, spacecraft, or satellite.
Example sentences
  • After testing in 2004, the Air Force would like to buy six more ABLs and modify the test bird into an operational aircraft.
  • The insurance on the plane was almost prohibitive and finding an airport and hangar for the bird was even more so.
  • We need better human intelligence and not just to rely on satellites and birds in the sky.
2 informal A person of a specified kind or character: she’s a sharp old bird
More example sentences
  • To quote the old bird herself, we are not amused.
  • It seems there's still life left in the old bird after all.
  • If you flipped through the channels fast enough, it looked like the old bird had finally made up with Diana.
3British informal A young woman or a man’s girlfriend.
Example sentences
  • The other point is that men want to feel that the women they go out with mirror them - and we all want to prove that we can pull a younger bird.
  • I had a friend who worked abroad minus his wife and ran off with a younger bird.
  • A fit bird means a girl who is pretty good looking or tasty!



the bird has flown

The person one is looking for has escaped or left.
Example sentences
  • Once the bird has flown, it's too late to do anything about it.
  • But the Labour Party Government is not going to amend the law now; it will do so after the bird has flown.
  • The translation, for the benefit of my learned friend Mr Brownlee, is: the bird has flown its nest and it is free to fly the skies of the world.

a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

proverb It’s better to be content with what you have than to risk losing everything by seeking to get more.
Example sentences
  • Tearing up the agreement may head off any potential lawsuits, but as far as TV coverage is concerned, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
  • The KMT appears to have forgotten the old maximum that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush - and stands to become the biggest loser in the recall drive.
  • The old adage that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush reflects the prudent strategy to go for the sure thing

the birds and the bees

informal Basic facts about sex and reproduction, as told to a child.
Example sentences
  • When it comes to facts and values, we both agree that ‘moral facts are in as good a shape as facts about the birds and the bees ', whatever that shape may be.
  • Probably the best scene in the play is where a Yorkshireman much older than me tries to sit me down and explain the birds and the bees.
  • As an example, Ciya told me that when she told her son and daughter about the birds and the bees, she told them all about contraceptives, and she offered to buy condoms for both kids if they felt embarrassed to purchase them for themselves!

birds of a feather flock together

proverb People of the same sort or with the same tastes and interests will be found together: these health professionals sure were birds of a feather
More example sentences
  • Remember how your mother used to say that birds of a feather flock together, and you thought it was just a cheap attempt to insult your boyfriend?
  • It's more of a case of birds of a feather flock together - people tend to gravitate to other people who are like themselves.
  • The bottom line is that birds of a feather flock together.

do (one's) bird

British informal Serve a prison sentence.
Bird from rhyming slang birdlime 'time'
Example sentences
  • As a couple of the drunks walked past me I heard one say to the other ‘… I don't think that's a good idea to do that, you don't want to be doing bird again…"
  • He was explaining in detail about some armed robbery he'd been involved in, how they'd shot through the kitchen window and how he was sure he was doing bird this time.
  • A warrant for his arrest has now been issued and he may end up doing bird rather than feeding them!

flip someone the bird (or flip the bird)

US informal Stick one’s middle finger up at someone as a sign of contempt or anger.
Example sentences
  • He sticks his hand out the window and flips me the bird.
  • She stuck her arm behind her back and flipped me the bird.
  • Without hesitation I started walking away, Billy started yelling for me, pleading for me to turn around, but I stuck my hand in the air and flipped him the bird.

(strictly) for the birds

informal Not worthy of consideration.
Example sentences
  • I hadn't intended to run on at such length about the crow, which I was using simply as one example of a wider thesis: that nature remains strictly for the birds.
  • Leaving the telly on is strictly for the birds…
  • When I was 10, I told my father that this annual migration to the south was strictly for the birds.

get the bird

British informal Be booed or jeered at.
Example sentences
  • Some repetition's necessary of course, but it is far more interesting and amusing to watch Tanya's teaching methods getting the bird from Lucky than hearing a song sung all the way through after hearing it previously in sections.
  • He wanted to be Harry Kewell right up until the moment when Kewell misses a sitter and gets the bird.
  • He was getting the bird every time he touched the ball, which admittedly wasn't often, and he roamed from wing to wing, either to seek the ball or a lower level of personal animus.

give someone the bird

British informal Boo or jeer at someone.
Example sentences
  • And while mobile phone tunes may already give you the bird, it could be worse, South suggests.
  • I have an aversion to sites which literally give you the bird on the front page, so I didn't linger.
  • A guy misses a match - for his own reasons no doubt, that is not a justification to give him the bird.
North American another way of saying flip someone the bird .
Example sentences
  • Ever since I graduated, in 1977, people have never tired of giving me the bird.
  • I smiled to myself as I watched her start spluttering and yelling after the car and giving him the bird.
  • Residents and shoppers in Rayleigh have been given the bird after council plans to try and deter pigeons from the town centre were abandoned.

have a bird

North American informal Be very shocked or agitated.
Example sentences
  • But the critic from The Province came with his wife and had a bird.
  • The public seemed to like it, but the critic from the Vancouver Province came with his wife, and he had a bird: ‘How could I invite him to see this movie?’
  • "Hi Mutt, hey I've got a great joke to play on Alice. Lets fill out the card and then you leave and come back about two minutes after the game starts. She will have a bird."

a little bird told me

humorous Used to indicate that the speaker knows something but chooses to keep the identity of their informant secret: a little bird told me it was your birthday
More example sentences
  • He smiled, shrugging casually, ‘Oh… a little bird told me…‘
  • Well - a little bird told me that you might have an interest in ships nowadays.
  • ‘No, a little bird told me,’ Janelle said, anger and sarcasm dripping from her words.


Old English brid 'chick, fledgling', of unknown origin.

  • The origin of bird is unknown, and there are no parallel forms in any of the languages related to English. Old English brid (with the r before the i) meant only a chick or a nestling: an adult bird was a fowl. The form brid existed alongside bird in the literary language into the 15th century, but after that it survived only in dialect. Meanwhile fowl stopped being a general term, and it now refers only to specialized groups such as wildfowl and waterfowl. The first record of the proverb a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush comes in the mid 15th century. In birds of a feather flock together, first recorded a century later, the word ‘a’ means ‘one’ or ‘the same’.

    The British slang use of bird to mean a young woman is associated with the 1960s and 1970s, but goes back as far as the Middle Ages. In those days there was another word bird, also spelled burd, that meant a young woman, which people confused with the familiar bird. The Virgin Mary could be described in those days as ‘that blissful bird of grace’. The modern use, recorded from the beginning of the 20th century, appears to be something of a revival.

    The earliest version of the expression give someone the bird, meaning to boo or jeer at them, is the big bird, which was used by people working in the theatre in the early 19th century. The big bird referred to was a goose, a bird well known for its aggressive hissing when threatened or annoyed. The booing and hissing of the audience at an actor's poor performance might well have suggested a flock of angry geese.

    Bird meaning ‘a prison sentence’ is a shortening of birdlime ( see also viscous) used in rhyming slang to mean ‘time’. So if you were ‘doing bird’ or ‘doing birdlime’, you were ‘doing time’, a sense known from the mid 19th century.

    In golf a birdie is a score of one stroke under par ( see pair) at a hole. Two under par is an eagle, three under par is an albatross or double eagle, and one over par is a bogey ( see bogus). This scoring terminology is said to have originated at the end of the 19th century when an American golfer hit a bird with his drive yet still managed to score one under par at the hole—this bird suggested birdie, and the other bird names were added to continue the theme.

Words that rhyme with bird

absurd, Byrd, curd, engird, gird, Heard, herd, Kurd, misheard, nerd, overheard, reheard, third, undergird, undeterred, unheard, unstirred, word

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: bird

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