One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Specifically. A native or inhabitant of eastern Germany or the Baltic coasts, especially a citizen of the Hanse towns.
2Generally. A native or inhabitant of an eastern country or district. Formerly also: †a member of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Now archaic.
3Chiefly English regional. Either of two small ducks that occur in southern and eastern Britain chiefly as winter visitors, the wigeon (Anas penelope) and the smew (Mergus albellus).
Late Middle English. From easter + -ling, after either Middle Low German ōsterlinc person from the east, especially a German from one of the more easterly German territories, a Hanse, or Middle Dutch oosterling person from the east, person from northern Germany, a Hanse.
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