One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A gregarious Australian bird of the mud-nester family, with grey, brown, and black plumage and a robust black bill.
- ‘One need go no further than the verandah of your Canvas Cabin to see scaly-breasted and rainbow lorikeets, king parrots, scrub turkeys, kookaburras, currawongs squatter pigeons and apostlebirds.’
- ‘In another paper accepted for publication in the same journal, he and colleagues from the University of Melbourne, Australia, studied apostlebirds, Struthidea cinerea.’
- ‘This family also contains birds as varied as the quail-thrushes, sittellas, choughs, apostlebirds, shrike-tits, bellbirds, whistlers, shrike-thrushes, birds-of paradise, butcherbirds, magpies, currawongs, woodswallows, orioles, cuckoo-shrikes, trillers, fantails, monarchs, magpie-larks, and others.’
- 1.1Australian Any of a number of other gregarious birds, especially babblers.
Early 20th century: named from the supposed habit of these birds of going about in flocks of twelve.
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