One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
- old-fashioned term for storm petrel
- ‘He was surprised to see Mother Carey's chickens (= Wilson's Storm-Petrel, Oceanites oceanicus) in November in the mid-Atlantic on his way back to Boston from Liverpool.’
- ‘Besides the penguin many other birds are to be found here, among which may be mentioned sea-hens, blue petrels, teal, ducks, Port Egmont hens, shags, Cape pigeons, the nelly, sea swallows, terns, sea gulls, Mother Carey's chickens, Mother Carey's geese, or the great petrel, and, lastly, the albatross.’
- ‘It runs alphabetically from Mother Carey's chicken (see: Petrel) to Motherwell and Wishaw, which turn out to be two towns in the Strathclyde region of south central Scotland merged into one big Motherwell in 1920.’
Mid 18th century: of unknown origin.
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