Definition of nightingale in English:



  • A small European thrush with drab brownish plumage, noted for the rich melodious song of the male, heard especially at night in breeding season.

    • ‘Without ears to hear, the nightingale would sing in vain.’
    • ‘Leonard captures the essence of the nightingale's song in this piece, with layered beauty, utilizing a couple of unusual instruments in the process.’
    • ‘Brumm has studied how nightingales - famed for their melodious song - respond to the hustle and bustle in the German capital city of Berlin.’
    • ‘There are already an estimated 20000 of them, surpassing native birds such as barn owls, nightingales and kingfishers.’
    • ‘Our love of beauty may not be as intense as that of a Keats whom the full - throated melody of a nightingale's song could transport to the land of the fairies.’
    • ‘The nightingale and woodcock have completely disappeared.’
    • ‘In her mind she tried to recreate the May-smells of clematis and broom drifting in from the rolling hills, the song of nightingales on the wooded heights, the twinkle of fireflies in the ripening fields.’
    • ‘I heard a nightjar, and our nightingale gave us a virtuoso performance but still, no cuckoo.’
    • ‘Invited to hear him, the king declined, saying he had heard the nightingale itself.’
    • ‘Or again, the blowing of a car horn just outside the room in which one is meditating might occasion unpleasant feelings, the song of a nightingale might occasion pleasant ones, or the sound of rain might occasion neither.’
    • ‘In a bit of incredible but completely appropriate timing, the Fisherman sings ‘Oh, God above, how beautiful it is’ as the nightingale's song is heard.’
    • ‘Listening to the songs of the nightingales and the rustling of the wind through the trees, he delighted in the sounds and smells of nature on that sunny afternoon.’
    • ‘It's a hugely romantic spot; you may even hear nightingales sing.’
    • ‘He worried about the future of the golden eagle, the osprey and the nightingale and he condemned the persecution of the bullfinch.’
    • ‘The bird is a notorious skulker, tending to show itself only momentarily, and is as difficult to see well as a nightingale.’
    • ‘Reich had the bird breeder's equivalent of a green thumb, and was known among bird hobbyists for training canaries to sing the song of the nightingale.’
    • ‘It is surprising that despite all the pollution, increased lighting and noise, I can still hear the nightingales sing and spot an odd fire fly or two amid the bushes.’
    • ‘But diet extends to a selection of birds including warblers and even swallows, wheatears and nightingales.’
    • ‘The pipes now struck a chord with the sorrowful, organic quality of the nightingale's song.’
    • ‘It doesn't take much to get him on to the subject of the nightingales, otters, barn owls and even notoriously shy bitterns now living alongside the humans at Lower Mill.’


Old English nihtegala, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch nachtegaal and German Nachtigall, from the base of night and a base meaning ‘sing’.