Definition of magpie in English:

Share this entry

magpie

Pronunciation: /ˈmaɡpʌɪ/

noun

Image of magpie
1A long-tailed crow with boldly marked (or green) plumage and a noisy call.
Example sentences
  • The corvines - crows, rooks, jays, magpies and jackdaws - are relentless stealers of other birds' eggs and chicks.
  • Long-eared Owls usually nest in abandoned stick nests, often the nests of magpies, crows, ravens, or hawks.
  • The brain-to-body ratio of crows, ravens and magpies equals that of dolphins and nearly matches humans.
2 (also bell magpie) Any bird of the Australasian butcher-bird family, having black-and-white plumage and musical calls.
  • Family Cracticidae: several species.
Example sentences
  • The pair compared data from studies covering 18 different species, including dwarf mongooses, meerkats, Florida scrub jays, western bluebirds, and Australian magpies.
  • The Grey Butcherbird, like the magpie, can also be responsible for swooping during Spring in an effort to protect their young.
  • But when you get to magpies or butcherbirds the training period becomes longer, so in fact magpies have to learn for about 5 years before they are ready to breed.
3Used figuratively to refer to a person who obsessively collects things or who chatters idly: his father was a garrulous old man who chattered like a magpie [as modifier]: he would carry these documents home to appease his secretive magpie instinct
More example sentences
  • The Eameses were magpie collectors of Americana - toys, tools, quilts, cotton reels, primitive paintings - and this love affair shines through their short films.
  • They are very far from being traditional; they are magpie collectors of everything that might suit them, and that includes rhetoric.
  • We are living in a society based on the concept of ownership; a magpie culture.
4The division of a circular target next to the outer one, or a shot which strikes this.
Example sentences
  • The target was white with a black bull's-eye (counting 5 points) and two rings, invisible to the firer, called the "inner" and the "magpie," and scoring 4 and 3; the rest of the target was called the "outer" and counted points.
  • This system was the basis of all match shooting, whether with match or service rifles, and (with the trifling difference that the bull counted 4, the inner 3 and the magpie and outer alike 2) it was followed in military range practice.

Origin

Late 16th century: probably shortening of dialect maggot the pie, maggoty-pie, from Magot (Middle English pet form of the given name Marguerite) + pie2.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: mag¦pie

Share this entry
 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.