One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Any of various shearwaters and petrels of the North Atlantic, especially the greater shearwater, Ardenna gravis, and the sooty shearwater, A. griseus. Also occasionally: any of several other seabirds, as skuas and fulmars.
Late 17th century; earliest use found in James Yonge (1647–1721), surgeon and physician. Origin unknown.
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