Definition of greyback in English:



  • 1US. Any of several wading birds; especially the (red) knot, Calidris canutus, in winter plumage. Now historical.

  • 2English regional and US. The (greater) scaup, Aythya marila. Now rare.

  • 3United States regional. A louse. Also figurative. Now archaic and historical.

  • 4US. More fully "greyback whale". The grey whale, Eschrichtius robustus.

  • 5English regional. More fully "greyback crow". The hooded crow, Corvus corone cornix. Compare grey crow. Now rare.

  • 6A member of a military or police force whose uniform includes, or consists of, a grey coat; specifically (US informal) a soldier of the Confederate army in the American Civil War (1861–5). Compare greycoat, "grey". Now archaic and historical.

  • 7US. A monetary note issued by the Confederacy during the American Civil War. Compare "blueback", "greenback". Now historical.


Early 19th century; earliest use found in Alexander Wilson (1766–1813), ornithologist and poet. From grey + back.