One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A small Old World thrush related to the chats, typically having a brown back with red on the breast or other colourful markings.
Erithacus and other genera, family Turdidae: numerous species, e.g. the familiar European robin or redbreast (E. rubecula), which has an orange-red face and breast
- ‘I'm told catnip keeps birds away from strawberries, and having lost most of mine to robins this year I'm going to try it.’
- ‘As dawn breaks on a misty Welsh morning, the earliest birds to break into song are likely to include European robins, followed by blackbirds and song thrushes.’
- ‘It worked, but only up to a point, for this year's bumper crop has been almost entirely eaten by a family of robins.’
- ‘In their study, the researchers compared two species of night-migratory songbirds - garden warblers and European robins - with two non-migratory songbirds - zebra finches and canaries.’
- ‘Migrating from northern Europe to the Iberian Peninsula's cork forests are blackcaps, finches, robins, and song thrushes.’
2Any of a number of birds that resemble the European robin, especially in having a red breast.
a large New World thrush (genus Turdus, family Turdidae), in particular the American robin (T. migratorius).
a small Australasian songbird related to the flycatchers (family Eopsaltridae, in particular genus Petroica).
Mid 16th century: from Old French, pet form of the given name Robert.
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