One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A short-winged diving seabird found in northern oceans, typically with a black head and black and white underparts.
Family Alcidae (the auk family), which comprises the guillemots, razorbills, puffins, and their relatives
- ‘The long Norwegian coast is home to millions of seabirds, including a large number of auks and kittiwakes, which are found in the northern half of the country.’
- ‘The great auks, Purcell reports, were ‘hunted for their feathers… and to loosen their plumage the birds were boiled in large cauldrons over fires fed by oil from auks killed before them.’’
- ‘Among auk species, female-male differences in parental care are less well known.’
- ‘The auks ' ecological niche was similar to the penguins ’, but not the same.’
- ‘Perhaps the only exceptions are auks, penguins and other birds which ‘fly’ under water.’
Late 17th century: from Old Norse álka ‘razorbill’.
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