One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A stout seed- or fruit-eating bird with a small head, short legs, and a cooing voice, typically having grey and white plumage.
Family Columbidae: numerous genera and speciesSee also dove (sense 1)
- ‘In 1990, when production of all fruits was relatively poor, the lowest number of pigeons bred for the shortest period of time.’
- ‘They release white pigeons at the end of every church service.’
- ‘Balloons and 55 white pigeons were launched by radio stations all over the country on the eve of last Friday's concert.’
- ‘Even bigger flocks of white pigeons are a mild distraction; we quickly followed a small crowd that headed for a nearby pond.’
- ‘Hugo was walking hand in hand with Lindsay as they strolled in the beautiful park; the white pigeons flew around them… he was in heaven!’
- ‘I looked up to see gigantic white pigeons in the treetops.’
- ‘I also see hornbills pass up small - fruited figs that would draw doves and pigeons in by the hundreds.’
- ‘Stewart screamed as his father hauled him up, thrashed around with arms to protect his face when a white pigeon suddenly exploded from below him and beat its way into the safe air.’
- ‘Their short breeding cycle allows pigeons and doves to have more broods to compensate for their small brood sizes and relatively high rates of predation.’
- ‘When she turned back Dagmar was gone, a grey pigeon sat on the window sill, high above.’
- ‘A typical company might charge $250 or more to release 12 white pigeons.’
- ‘He'd pounce too fast and fall short of the pigeon.’
- ‘After lunch, we walked round the spit and swam in a sea like silk, with only a sea eagle and a few white Torres Strait pigeons for company.’
- ‘The place even sold white pigeons as ‘pets'.’
- ‘In one, a white pigeon is perched on a hand round which a serpent, ready to strike, has wound itself.’
- ‘This diet mimics the composition of crop milk in white Carneaux pigeons, Columbia livia, and the diet of older squabs.’
- 1.1 A pigeon descended from the wild rock dove, kept for racing, showing, and carrying messages, and common as a feral bird in towns.
- ‘DNA extracted from specimens of extinct animals has already been used to show that the Mauritian dodo is a close cousin to the common pigeon.’
- ‘She revealed that pigeons in certain town centre areas are being fed raw pieces of meat, pies and pasties, cakes, and full loaves of bread.’
- ‘Presently it is the abode of wild pigeons, bats, goats, dogs, pigs etc.’
- ‘Recently, global positioning systems have become small and light enough to be carried by pigeons.’
- ‘Suspicions that new and undetectable drugs are being used have grown after samples from scores of racing pigeons in Belgium disappeared.’
- ‘Its been estimated by some pigeon fanciers that there as many as 500 wild pigeons in the town centre.’
- ‘Pigeon racing is also a common pass-time and racing pigeons can sell for as much as $350 000.’
- ‘However, in areas where rabbits are scarce, feral cats will prey largely on wild pigeons and native animals.’
- ‘On a less frantic note, while we go to a rooftop in Rome, dozens of doves, pigeons, were released carrying messages of hope and peace.’
- ‘So the settlers looked to the land to provide for them, curlews, pigeons and other forest birds along with the occasional wild pig.’
- ‘Attacks by birds of prey on Scotland's flocks of racing pigeons are to be officially investigated for the first time.’
- ‘Descended from wild rock doves, homing pigeons can locate their lofts, or roosts, even when released several thousand miles away.’
- ‘There have been four incidents involving racing pigeons at the airport since 2002, two involving planes landing and two taking off.’
- ‘He uses homing pigeons to carry messages back home.’
- ‘And lots of animals, from coyotes to common pigeons, mate for life.’
- ‘Until recently, winter nesting in British birds has been very rare beyond a handful of species that include the wood pigeon, feral pigeon, and collared dove.’
- ‘Other life included a family of German walkers, a mountain biker, and a flock of racing pigeons that skimmed the heather to mitigate a strong south-westerly.’
- ‘The college campus will have pigeons flying and carrying love letters and short messages.’
- ‘It also eats birds such as magpies and pigeons, rodents, wild boar and young deer.’
- ‘Birds such as the homing pigeon comprise most of the short list.’
2North American informal A gullible person, especially someone swindled in gambling or the victim of a confidence trick.
- ‘At the end of the day, one has to admit that most would-be megastars, the pigeons in this behavioral con game, are complicit in their deception.’
- ‘The pigeon is the gaming commission who doesn't recognize the gambler's need for excitement and agrees to bar them from casinos.’
- ‘In Trafalgar Square, he meets up with Bugsy, a fat, smelly, cheeky con-man pigeon, who ends up volunteering for the war effort by mistake.’
3military slang An aircraft from one's own side.
Late Middle English: from Old French pijon, denoting a young bird, especially a young dove, from an alteration of late Latin pipio(n-), ‘young cheeping bird’ of imitative origin.
1archaic spelling of pidgin
- ‘People who first spoke pigeon languages (e.g. Creole) which were just a combination of other languages had kids that incorporated grammar and usage into the language that the parents never used or taught.’
- ‘To make it even better, this guy only spoke French and Paul spoke pigeon French.’
- ‘My black and white teachers alike would vehemently criticize and say I spoke "pigeon language" or broken English.’
- ‘He spoke pigeon English, and would tell me stories often consisting of as many gestures as words.’
- ‘They spent two weeks there practising the local language - a pigeon English called Krio - and lazing on the beaches.’
2one's pigeonBritish informal A person's particular responsibility or business.‘Hermia will have to tell them first, it's her pigeon’
- ‘"He'll know what to do, and in any case, it's his pigeon to whack out justice."’
- ‘Whatever has been ages ago - it's not my pigeon.’
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