Definition of ostrich in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈɒstrɪtʃ/


Image of ostrich
1A flightless swift-running African bird with a long neck, long legs, and two toes on each foot. It is the largest living bird, with males reaching a height of up to 2.75 m.
  • Struthio camelus, the only member of the family Struthionidae.
Example sentences
  • Both of these bird families had reduced wings and could not fly, and looked something like living ratite birds - ostriches, emus, rheas, and so on.
  • He's not just talking about pigeons and sparrows either; kiwis, ostriches, penguins, and rare flightless parrots are just a handful of the exotic avians featured in this series.
  • Living relatives of moa include the emus, ostrich, and kiwi, which are members of a bird group called ratites.
2A person who refuses to face reality or accept facts: don’t be an ostrich when it comes to security systems
From the popular belief that ostriches bury their heads in the sand if pursued
More example sentences
  • Despite the fervent hopes of many hard-working and well-meaning ostriches, the problem refuses to evaporate.
  • And, again, it's an ostrich attitude not to accept that and act accordingly, in my opinion.
  • Instead of behaving like ostriches, we should recognise the ground reality and legalise this profession.


Middle English: from Old French ostriche, from Latin avis 'bird' + late Latin struthio (from Greek strouthiōn 'ostrich', from strouthos 'sparrow or ostrich').

  • The first part of this word comes from Latin avis ‘bird’, but the second part goes back to the Greek name for a very different bird—strouthos ‘sparrow’. The fuller term in ancient Greek was megas strouthos ‘large sparrow’. It was also called strouthokamelos or ‘sparrow camel’, perhaps in recognition of its long neck. There was a traditional belief that hunted ostriches would bury their heads in the sand, thinking that this would hide them from view. From this we get the use of ‘ostrich’ to mean a person who refuses to face reality or accept facts, and also the phrase to bury your head in the sand.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: os|trich

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