Definition of preen in English:

preen

Line breaks: preen
Pronunciation: /priːn
 
/

verb

[no object]
1(Of a bird) tidy and clean its feathers with its beak: reed buntings preened at the pool’s edge [with object]: the pigeon preened her feathers
More example sentences
  • This louse is the only common parasite on satin bowerbirds, and it is found mainly around the head and eyes where birds cannot easily preen.
  • With hundreds of new feathers regenerating, the bird must preen constantly.
  • When preening, birds nibble and stroke their feathers, returning them to correct position.
Synonyms
clean, tidy, groom, smooth, arrange
archaic plume, prink
1.1 (also preen oneself) (Of a person) devote effort to making oneself look attractive and then admire one’s appearance: adolescents preening in their bedroom mirrors
More example sentences
  • They start cramming the barricades, the ladies start primping and preening themselves in their compact mirrors.
  • We're always expected to be preening ourselves, so it was a pretty nice opportunity not to have to think about that stuff for a while.
  • Television stars had been preening themselves for the red carpet at Claridges, where some of the hottest designers, make-up artists, jewellers and hair stylists had taken up residence.
Synonyms
admire oneself, primp oneself, primp, prink oneself;
pretty oneself, prettify oneself, smarten oneself, beautify oneself, make oneself pretty/smart/beautiful, groom oneself, tidy oneself, spruce oneself up
informal titivate oneself, doll oneself up
British informal tart oneself up
North American informal gussy oneself up
archaic plume oneself, trig oneself
1.2 (preen oneself) Congratulate or pride oneself: he’s busy preening himself on acquiring such a pretty girlfriend
More example sentences
  • For almost 10 years, I have preened myself on this single modest benefaction.
  • ‘As you wish, Captain,’ Tyrr replied simply, mentally preening himself for the accomplishment.
  • The police last week in Sunderland preened themselves on how good intelligence had enabled them to spot and control the troublemakers.
Synonyms
congratulate oneself, be pleased with oneself, pride oneself, be proud of oneself, pat oneself on the back, give oneself a pat on the back, feel self-satisfied
archaic pique oneself

Origin

late Middle English: apparently a variant of obsolete prune (based on Latin ungere 'anoint'), in the same sense, associated with Scots and northern English dialect preen 'pierce, pin' (because of the ‘pricking’ action of the bird's beak).

Derivatives

preener

noun
More example sentences
  • The second study suggested that birds with longer bill overhangs are more efficient preeners because the overhang helps birds create a shearing force that crushes ectoparasites.

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