Share this entry

Share this page

magpie

Line breaks: mag¦pie
Pronunciation: /ˈmaɡpʌɪ
 
/

Definition of magpie in English:

noun

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.

Definition of magpie in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day prepotent
Pronunciation: prɪˈpəʊt(ə)nt
adjective
greater than others in power or influence