Birds



a comedy (414 b.c.) by Aristophanes.
any warm-blooded vertebrate of the class Aves, having a body covered with feathers, forelimbs modified into wings, scaly legs, a beak, and no teeth, and bearing young in a hard-shelled egg.
a fowl or game bird.
Sports.

clay pigeon.
a shuttlecock.

Slang. a person, especially one having some peculiarity:
He’s a queer bird.
Informal. an aircraft, spacecraft, or guided missile.
Cookery. a thin piece of meat, poultry, or fish rolled around a stuffing and braised:
veal birds.
Southern U.S. (in hunting) a bobwhite.
Chiefly British Slang. a girl or young woman.
Archaic. the young of any fowl.
the bird, Slang.

disapproval, as of a performance, by hissing, booing, etc.:
He got the bird when he came out on stage.
scoffing or ridicule:
He was trying to be serious, but we all gave him the bird.
an obscene gesture of contempt made by raising the middle finger.

to catch or shoot birds.
to bird-watch.
a little bird, Informal. a secret source of information:
A little bird told me that today is your birthday.
bird in the hand, a thing possessed in fact as opposed to a thing about which one speculates:
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
Also, bird in hand.
birds of a feather, people with interests, opinions, or backgrounds in common:
Birds of a feather flock together.
eat like a bird, to eat sparingly:
She couldn’t understand why she failed to lose weight when she was, as she said, eating like a bird.
for the birds, Slang. useless or worthless; not to be taken seriously:
Their opinions on art are for the birds. That pep rally is for the birds.
kill two birds with one stone, to achieve two aims with a single effort:
She killed two birds with one stone by shopping and visiting the museum on the same trip.
the birds and the bees, basic information about sex and reproduction:
It was time to talk to the boy about the birds and the bees.
Contemporary Examples

Best New York Times Corrections Ever: ‘The Shining,’ Twilight Sparkle & More Josh Dzieza February 2, 2012
Top 10 Clues DeLay Was Born to Dance Lloyd Grove August 16, 2009
Mistletoe is the Vampire of Plants Helen Thompson December 20, 2014
Six Months After Sandy, the Rockaway Story Continues Michael Daly April 28, 2013
Alfred Hitchcock’s Fade to Black: The Great Director’s Final Days David Freeman December 12, 2014

Historical Examples

In Court and Kampong Hugh Clifford
Philothea Lydia Maria Child
Bird Stories from Burroughs John Burroughs
Philothea Lydia Maria Child
Myths and Legends of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes Various

noun
any warm-blooded egg-laying vertebrate of the class Aves, characterized by a body covering of feathers and forelimbs modified as wings. Birds vary in size between the ostrich and the humming bird related adjectives avian ornithic
(informal) a person (usually preceded by a qualifying adjective, as in the phrases rare bird, odd bird, clever bird)
(slang, mainly Brit) a girl or young woman, esp one’s girlfriend
(slang) prison or a term in prison (esp in the phrase do bird; shortened from birdlime, rhyming slang for time)
a bird in the hand, something definite or certain
(informal) the bird has flown, the person in question has fled or escaped
(euphemistic or jocular) the birds and the bees, sex and sexual reproduction
birds of a feather, people with the same characteristics, ideas, interests, etc
(informal) get the bird

to be fired or dismissed
(esp of a public performer) to be hissed at, booed, or derided

(informal) give someone the bird, to tell someone rudely to depart; scoff at; hiss
kill two birds with one stone, to accomplish two things with one action
like a bird, without resistance or difficulty
a little bird, a (supposedly) unknown informant: a little bird told me it was your birthday
(informal) for the birds, strictly for the birds, deserving of disdain or contempt; not important
noun
nickname of (Charlie) Parker
n.

Middle English, in which bird referred to various young animals and even human beings, may have preserved the original meaning of this word. Despite its early attestation, bridd is not necessarily the oldest form of bird. It is usually assumed that -ir- from -ri- arose by metathesis, but here, too, the Middle English form may go back to an ancient period. [Liberman]

Figurative sense of “secret source of information” is from 1540s. Bird dog (n.) attested from 1832, a gun dog used in hunting game birds; hence the verb (1941) meaning “to follow closely.” Bird-watching attested from 1897. Bird’s-eye view is from 1762. For the birds recorded from 1944, supposedly in allusion to birds eating from droppings of horses and cattle.

A byrde yn honde ys better than three yn the wode. [c.1530]

bird
(bûrd)
Any of numerous warm-blooded, egg-laying vertebrate animals of the class Aves. Birds have wings for forelimbs, a body covered with feathers, a hard bill covering the jaw, and a four-chambered heart.

Our Living Language : It is generally believed that birds are descended from dinosaurs and probably evolved from them during the Jurassic Period. While most paleontologists believe that birds evolved from a small dinosaur called the theropod, which in turn evolved from the thecodont, a reptile from the Triassic Period, other paleontologists believe that birds and dinosaurs both evolved from the thecodont. There are some who even consider the bird to be an actual dinosaur. According to this view, the bird is an avian dinosaur, and the older dinosaur a nonavian dinosaur. Although there are variations of thought on the exact evolution of birds, the similarities between birds and dinosaurs are striking and undeniable. Small meat-eating dinosaurs and primitive birds share about twenty characteristics that neither group shares with any other kind of animal; these include tubular bones, the position of the pelvis, the shape of the shoulder blades, a wishbone-shaped collarbone, and the structure of the eggs. Dinosaurs had scales, and birds have modified scales—their feathers—and scaly feet. Some dinosaurs also may have had feathers; a recently discovered fossil of a small dinosaur indicates that it had a featherlike covering. In fact, some primitive fossil birds and small meat-eating dinosaurs are so similar that it is difficult to tell them apart based on their skeletons alone.

Note: Some scientists argue that modern birds are descended from the dinosaurs.

: a gaggle of the guys in a Third Avenue bird bar (late 1800s+)
a bird colonel

A person of either sex, usually a man and often elderly: I’m a literary bird myself/ She was a tall old bird with a chin like a rabbit (mid-1800s+)
Somebody or something excellent; beaut, lulu (mid-1800s+)
A young woman; chick: Much commoner in British usage; regarded by some women as offensive (1900+ College students)
An odd or unusual person; an eccentric; flake, weirdo: He was a funny bird in many ways (mid-1800s+)
A male homosexual; gay (late 1800s+)
The eagle as an insignia of a colonel’s rank (Armed forces fr WWI)
Any aircraft, esp a helicopter (1918+)
A rocket or guided missile (1950s+ Astronautics)
A communications satellite: A VTR operator in Vancouver is editing a local piece for The National. ”Gotta make the bird,” the guy says confidently/ an agreement to put Satellite News Channel up on its bird (1970s+ Aerospace)

bird has flown, the
bird in the hand
bird of passage

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