One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A bird of prey reputed to break bones by dropping them from a great height (usually identified with the lammergeier or bearded vulture, Gypaetus barbatus).
Late 16th century; earliest use found in John Bossewell (d. 1580), author. From classical Latin ossifragus, ossifraga, lit. ‘bone-breaker’, a kind of bird of prey from ossi- + frag-, root of frangere to break. Compare Italian ossifraga, Middle French, French ossifrage.
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