Definition of laughing owl in English:

laughing owl

noun

  • 1US regional any of several North American owls, as the barred owl, Strix varia, or a screech owl (genus Megascops).

  • 2An extinct owl of New Zealand, Sceloglaux albifacies, with a pale face, brown-streaked plumage, and a call likened to shrieking laughter, thought to have been exterminated in the mid 20th cent. (also called whekau).

  • 3Australian either of two nightjars, the white-throated nightjar, Eurostopodus mystacalis, and the spotted nightjar, E. argus.

Origin

Mid 19th century; earliest use found in The Southern Literary Messenger.