Main definitions of bittern in English

: bittern1bittern2

bittern1

noun

  • A large marshbird of the heron family, which is typically smaller than a heron, with brown streaked plumage. The larger kinds are noted for the deep booming call of the male in the breeding season.

    • ‘The bittern has been transferred to a pen at the reserve which is home to the largest area of reedbed in the region.’
    • ‘The figures released today show the elusive bittern has become one of the UK's greatest wildlife success stories.’
    • ‘The bittern is one of the most threatened species in Britain - there are only 22 known pairs in the country.’
    • ‘Volunteers at Marbury Country Park, near Northwich, spotted three booming bitterns, members of the heron and stork family, feeding among reedbeds.’
    • ‘Binoculars are supplied so you can view the black teal, swans, dabchicks, ducks and even the spotless crake or elusive bittern.’
    • ‘An expert warden will be on hand to help you find the elusive bittern and then it's back to the tearoom for a hearty bowl of soup.’
    • ‘At Laurel Hill, you can spot waders such as herons, egrets, bitterns and glossy ibis, and predators such as ospreys, hawks, falcons and owls, with even the occasional bald eagle.’
    • ‘For many years male bitterns have been considered at times bigamists.’
    • ‘The bittern's diet includes fish, amphibians, insects, worms, small mammals and even young birds.’
    • ‘It is part of a £4m project, half of which has come from the European Union, which will see bittern habitat developed at 19 sites throughout England.’
    • ‘Publication in 1930 of Bernard Riviere's magnum opus ‘A History of the Birds of Norfolk’ marked the commencement of almost three decades of steady increase in the numbers of the skulking and ever secretive bittern.’
    • ‘You might even catch a glimpse of the reserve's most celebrated resident, the extremely rare and very shy bittern.’
    • ‘The oasis was my only source for waterfowl, and I spotted a little bittern, a moorhen and a pair of red-wattled plovers with their distinctive - if not extremely annoying - voice.’
    • ‘For every obvious crossbill, razorbill, greenfinch, woodpecker, warbler, treecreeper, swift or flycatcher there is a mysterious wigeon, garganey, gadwall, bittern, siskin, pipit, shrike or twite.’
    • ‘Stretch your legs and breathe in some crisp seasonal air on a winter walk around the beautiful RSPB Leighton Moss Nature Reserve in search of the elusive bittern, next Wednesday at 10.30 am.’
    • ‘Areas already under stewardship have seen a marked increase in previously declining bird species, including the stone curlew, bittern, lapwing, reed bunting, greenfinch, pipit, twite, and wagtail.’
    • ‘Public viewing hides at the reserve and on the shores of the Bay offer glimpses of the rare bearded tit and bittern.’
    • ‘The bittern, a brown heron, came close to dying out six years ago and conservationists feared there were only 11 ‘booming’ males left.’
    • ‘The grey heron was anyway considered to be the best of a group of birds with similar lifestyles, to wit other herons and night herons, egrets, bitterns, and cormorants.’
    • ‘The RSPB and English Nature revealed that bittern numbers have increased five fold in just seven years.’

Origin

Late Middle English bitore, from Old French butor, based on Latin butio bittern + taurus bull (because of its call). The - n was added in the 16th century, perhaps by association with hern, obsolete variant of heron.

Pronunciation:

bittern

/ˈbɪtən/

Main definitions of bittern in English

: bittern1bittern2

bittern2

(also bitterns)

noun

  • [mass noun] A concentrated solution of various salts remaining after the crystallization of salt from seawater.

    • ‘This is curdled by calcium sulphate, or by a traditional curdling agent called nigari in Japan; this is bittern, the lye left over after the crystallization of salt from sea water.’
    • ‘A new process for recovery of Low Sodium Salt from bittern has been described in the present invention.’
    • ‘A combination of whey mineral and an alkali metal salt or bittern enhances the salty taste.’

Origin

Late 17th century: probably from the adjective bitter.

Pronunciation:

bittern

/ˈbɪtən/