One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
nounEnglish Regional, Scottish, Northern
The European bittern, Botaurus stellaris. Later also (US): the American bittern, B. lentiginosus.
Late Middle English; earliest use found in John Trevisa (c1342–?1402), translator. Origin uncertain; probably an alteration of Old English rāradumbla (masculine), rāredumle (feminine) bittern, with substitution of mire for the first element.
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