Definition of bird in US English:



  • 1A warm-blooded egg-laying vertebrate distinguished by the possession of feathers, wings, and a beak and (typically) by being able to fly.

    Class Aves; birds probably evolved in the Jurassic period from small dinosaurs that may already have been warm-blooded

    • ‘When on the water, a sleeping bird will tuck its bill under its wing; on land birds may stand on one leg.’
    • ‘It requires no special morphological adaptations, although it is most effective in birds with low wing loading.’
    • ‘On the fringes of the bay, fragile marshes and winding waterways are teeming with birds and wildlife.’
    • ‘Whether the flightless birds used their beaks to impale or bludgeon their prey is unknown, Chiappe says.’
    • ‘The black back of the bird separated the two wings from each other.’
    • ‘Youngsters were able to stroke the birds ' feathers.’
    • ‘Occasionally, a bird fluffs feathers and wings in a short flight, before returning to the field of perpetual avian motion.’
    • ‘Instead, the birds strike with their beaks and hook their fresh meat on thorns or barbed wire.’
    • ‘Such cases of female competition and aggression have been noted in many birds and other vertebrates.’
    • ‘After you have clipped his wing, your bird will still be able to fly, but not for any distance.’
    • ‘A bird needs wings for lift, tail feathers for control and lightweight bones.’
    • ‘I am currently using turkey feathers to fletch with, after spending half a day on a commercial turkey farm plucking wing feathers as the birds went into the slaughter house.’
    • ‘Marine mammals and large flying birds are the animals most likely to be able to benefit from foraging over very large distances.’
    • ‘Hence, the possession of feathers is unique to birds and defines all members of the class Aves.’
    • ‘To this purpose the bird will hold its wings out from its body until dry enough for flight.’
    • ‘They measure the bills and the wings, take the birds ' weights and label a leg of each with a colored marker.’
    • ‘They were not the feathered wings of a bird or the leathery ones of a bat, but something in-between, sharing the features of both.’
    • ‘Note the curled feathers on the wings, which become more prominent when the bird raises its wings during threat display’
    • ‘With a three-foot wingspan and two long, streaming tail feathers, these birds are easy to recognize.’
    • ‘Bounding and undulating flight are distinguished by the way the bird uses its wings during the resting phase.’
    1. 1.1 A bird that is hunted for sport or used for food.
      ‘carve the bird at the dinner table’
      • ‘Remove the birds and carve down one side of the breast bone, snipping the bird in half.’
      • ‘The European Commission yesterday ordered a ban on all imports of birds and feathers from Turkey amid new fears over avian influenza.’
      • ‘Then they collected the eggs they didn't eat and stored them in casks, and they killed birds for both food and sport.’
      • ‘At the same time it brought the birds closer to sport hunters living in southern California cities.’
      • ‘Although we didn't detect any ginger in our ginger chicken fillet, the meat wasn't the tough old bird we often get off Bulgaria's grills.’
      • ‘The fact that the villages needed to trap birds probably meant that food was in short supply.’
      • ‘Shooting the birds was marginally better sport than bagging dodos and to win a rosette in pigeon-shooting you had to kill in excess of 30,000 passengers in a session.’
      • ‘When skeet shooting or bird hunting, those that ride high on the nose are preferred since you are shooting at objects moving upwards.’
      • ‘The second panel describes how coastal tribes came on seasonal trips for food, trapping birds and catching eels.’
      • ‘The farmer, seeing the birds he raised for food being killed, tried to persuade the hunter to stop.’
      • ‘In medieval Europe, scribes used trimmed feathers from the wings of large birds and various inks to mark a set of alphabetic letters on parchment skins.’
      • ‘There were also clan-specific food taboos on particular birds and wild animals.’
      • ‘The upland stamp would be required of those hunting doves, quail, pheasants and other upland birds.’
      • ‘I roast my grouse for a short time at a high temperature - as long as they are young birds - and rest them for as long as possible to relax the meat and give it a uniform rosiness.’
      • ‘When it comes time to carve the bird, you'll find that although it has already given its life, the duck doesn't easily give in to the cook.’
      • ‘Some people living near the husbandry have ignored warnings from the local administration and have stolen birds for food.’
      • ‘Moisten the top of the bird with olive oil and then season with thyme, rosemary, oregano, salt, pepper and a few pinches of cayenne.’
    2. 1.2North American informal An aircraft, spacecraft, satellite, or guided missile.
      ‘the crews worked frantically to ready their birds for flight’
      • ‘I didn't do a full restoration but had the bird cleaned up and detailed out.’
      • ‘While there's a finite number of under- $60,000 airplanes, among them are some great budget birds.’
      • ‘As the end of the runway loomed in front of him, he pulled back on the control wheel and forced his bird from its perch.’
      • ‘Now he's the dedicated crew chief for the 23rd Bomb Squadron commander's bird, the Bomber Baron.’
      • ‘We need better human intelligence and not just to rely on satellites and birds in the sky.’
      • ‘Curtain, was an excellent artist so the honor was bestowed upon him to paint the war face on our bird as we prepared to go into battle.’
      • ‘The novel solution was to get the Navy to take over the birds, assign them Bureau Numbers to camouflage and confuse the rest of us.’
      • ‘When the Viper loses its engine, the whole bird usually goes with it.’
      • ‘The only one currently in operation is NASA's Space Shuttle, an expensive old bird, and set for the scrap heap in just six years.’
      • ‘Now almost all the new birds entering the fleet have some form of pilot and passenger entertainment system.’
      • ‘Many of these birds are lovingly restored, bespeaking the inordinate affections heaped upon them by proud owners.’
      • ‘The plane is a C130 Gunship, a classic old bird modified for special ops.’
      • ‘The insurance on the plane was almost prohibitive and finding an airport and hangar for the bird was even more so.’
      • ‘After testing in 2004, the Air Force would like to buy six more ABLs and modify the test bird into an operational aircraft.’
      • ‘Within 90 minutes, he had the bird repaired and continued his trip south.’
      • ‘I always like to relive those days spent flying the MATS version of it all over the world - a great bird.’
      aircraft, craft, flying machine
      View synonyms
  • 2informal usually with adjective A person of a specified kind or character.

    ‘I'm a pretty tough old bird’
    • ‘I sound like a tough old bird - but I sweated blood over this gallery and yet I would never want to have had those years any easier.’
    • ‘The landlady Anika was a senile old bird and was always telling me off for not paying my bills when I'd just paid her the day before.’
    • ‘Every so often, in between weathercasts predicting temperatures in the 90s, they wheel out this wizened old bird.’
    • ‘She's a strong old bird, but I don't think she'll recover from this one.’
    • ‘Yet England will remain unbroken, staunch old bird that she is, accustomed to the IRA and the blitz of the Second World War.’
    • ‘So I asked a wise old bird, ‘Sir, do you know any tricks to get this light to go out?’’
    • ‘It seems there's still life left in the old bird after all.’
    • ‘Her great-grandmother died of an unknown disease, and my gran was given a stack of money for the old bird's body - medical research I guess.’
    • ‘Will that wily old bird be proved right in the next few months?’
    • ‘Whether you have found a cure for cancer or you're just a daft old bird who can't drive makes no difference, as long as people know your face.’
    • ‘Why make a film about a posh old bird and an emporium of entertainment?’
    • ‘We had done everything to breathe life into the old bird.’
    • ‘He remained a tough old bird, long after he left the army.’
    • ‘To quote the old bird herself, we are not amused.’
    • ‘He's a tough old bird who has seen a lot of hard times.’
    • ‘If you flipped through the channels fast enough, it looked like the old bird had finally made up with Diana.’
    • ‘Maybe the old bird that called it in wasn't wearing her glasses.’
    • ‘The champion is a wily old bird however and Arthur was unable to press home his advantage.’
    • ‘But when in Rome London, might as well embrace the moment and see what the old bird has to offer.’
    • ‘But the worst was an old bird who shouted at me about the poll tax and blamed me for Black Wednesday.’
  • 3British informal A young woman or a girlfriend.

    • ‘A fit bird means a girl who is pretty good looking or tasty!’
    • ‘The other point is that men want to feel that the women they go out with mirror them - and we all want to prove that we can pull a younger bird.’
    • ‘I had a friend who worked abroad minus his wife and ran off with a younger bird.’
    lady, girl, member of the fair sex, member of the gentle sex, female
    girlfriend, girl, sweetheart, partner, significant other, inamorata, fiancée
    View synonyms


  • a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

    • proverb It's better to be content with what you have than to risk losing everything by seeking more.

      • ‘Tearing up the agreement may head off any potential lawsuits, but as far as TV coverage is concerned, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.’
      • ‘The KMT appears to have forgotten the old maximum that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush - and stands to become the biggest loser in the recall drive.’
      • ‘In a possible offer situation for a troubled company, a bird in the hand is certainly worth more than two in the bush.’
      • ‘Sometimes a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush but occasionally, the bird in the hand is really only a reasonable facsimile of the other two.’
      • ‘The old adage that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush reflects the prudent strategy to go for the sure thing’
  • the birds and the bees

    • informal Basic facts about sex and reproduction, as told to a child.

      • ‘When it comes to facts and values, we both agree that ‘moral facts are in as good a shape as facts about the birds and the bees ', whatever that shape may be.’
      • ‘He's far too busy sewing the sequins on the little one's concert outfit, helping Timmy with his algebra, and talking through the birds and the bees to a pre-pubescent Melanie.’
      • ‘Oh well, I suppose I will have to have ‘that’ little chat with him before he goes to work - the birds and the bees probably won't cut it with him, any suggestions?’
      • ‘As an example, Ciya told me that when she told her son and daughter about the birds and the bees, she told them all about contraceptives, and she offered to buy condoms for both kids if they felt embarrassed to purchase them for themselves!’
      • ‘My parents still haven't told me about the birds and the bees!’
      • ‘There isn't a parent in the land who doesn't dread the day their child first asks about the birds and the bees.’
      • ‘‘My father never told me about the birds and the bees,’ it goes.’
      • ‘Probably the best scene in the play is where a Yorkshireman much older than me tries to sit me down and explain the birds and the bees.’
      the facts of life, sexual reproduction, reproduction
      View synonyms
  • birds of a feather flock together

    • proverb People of the same sort or with the same tastes and interests will be found together.

      ‘these health professionals were birds of a feather’
      • ‘It's more of a case of birds of a feather flock together - people tend to gravitate to other people who are like themselves.’
      • ‘Do opposites attract or do birds of a feather flock together?’
      • ‘The bottom line is that birds of a feather flock together.’
      • ‘Remember how your mother used to say that birds of a feather flock together, and you thought it was just a cheap attempt to insult your boyfriend?’
      • ‘It seems to me - I do not know - that birds of a feather flock together.’
  • flip someone the bird (or flip the bird)

    • informal Stick one's middle finger up at someone as a sign of contempt or anger, meaning 'fuck you'.

      Compare with give someone the finger in finger
      • ‘Dustin tried to flick him a thumbs-up sign, however, out of nervousness he flipped him the bird instead, accidentally, of course.’
      • ‘Without hesitation I started walking away, Billy started yelling for me, pleading for me to turn around, but I stuck my hand in the air and flipped him the bird.’
      • ‘She stuck her arm behind her back and flipped me the bird.’
      • ‘He sticks his hand out the window and flips me the bird.’
      • ‘Alya was about to flip him the bird, but changed her mind and stuck out her tongue instead.’
  • (strictly) for the birds

    • informal Not worth consideration; unimportant.

      ‘this piece of legislation is for the birds’
      • ‘As for capital gains tax on main residences as well as second homes, that is strictly for the birds.’
      • ‘Purity is for the birds, as Rand would say, yet not adhere to.’
      • ‘Leaving the telly on is strictly for the birds…’
      • ‘I hadn't intended to run on at such length about the crow, which I was using simply as one example of a wider thesis: that nature remains strictly for the birds.’
      • ‘When I was 10, I told my father that this annual migration to the south was strictly for the birds.’
  • give someone the bird

    • 1informal Boo or jeer at someone.

      • ‘I have an aversion to sites which literally give you the bird on the front page, so I didn't linger.’
      • ‘And while mobile phone tunes may already give you the bird, it could be worse, South suggests.’
      • ‘A guy misses a match - for his own reasons no doubt, that is not a justification to give him the bird.’
    • 2informal Stick one's middle finger up at someone as a sign of contempt or anger.

      ‘he gave his bench the bird, saluted and left the game’
      • ‘Residents and shoppers in Rayleigh have been given the bird after council plans to try and deter pigeons from the town centre were abandoned.’
      • ‘It is also because of the pheasant feathers on the arrows used with the longbow that the symbolic gesture is known as “giving the bird”.’
      • ‘I smiled to myself as I watched her start spluttering and yelling after the car and giving him the bird.’
      • ‘Maybe when Ron Sims gets on a bus to promote yet another tax increase for transportation the driver can give him the bird in the spirit of political free speech.’
      • ‘Ever since I graduated, in 1977, people have never tired of giving me the bird.’
  • have a bird

    • informal Be very shocked or agitated.

      ‘I would have a bird if my kids did this’
      • ‘The public seemed to like it, but the critic from the Vancouver Province came with his wife, and he had a bird: ‘How could I invite him to see this movie?’’
      • ‘"Hi Mutt, hey I've got a great joke to play on Alice. Lets fill out the card and then you leave and come back about two minutes after the game starts. She will have a bird."’
      • ‘But the critic from The Province came with his wife and had a bird.’
  • a little bird told me

    • humorous Used to say that the speaker knows something but prefers to keep the identity of the informant a secret.

      ‘a little bird told me it was your birthday’
      • ‘I was about to convince myself that people were finally losing interest in the story, when a little bird told me to keep going.’
      • ‘He smiled, shrugging casually, ‘Oh… a little bird told me…‘’
      • ‘Well - a little bird told me that you might have an interest in ships nowadays.’
      • ‘Hmmm… a little bird told me this morning that Ms. Hayward has a brand new boyfriend.’
      • ‘‘No, a little bird told me,’ Janelle said, anger and sarcasm dripping from her words.’


Old English brid ‘chick, fledgling’, of unknown origin.