Definition of potoo in English:



  • A nocturnal, insectivorous bird resembling a large nightjar. Found in tropical America, it mimics a dead branch when alarmed.

    • ‘That night trip also yielded a highland tinamou, two Virginia opossums and - after half an hour spent staring at a yellow eye in a distant tree - what turned out to be a potoo.’
    • ‘A distant relative of the whippoorwill, the potoo feeds mainly at night, opening its short, curved bill very wide to sweep up flying insects.’
    • ‘White-winged potoo, a large, very rare nocturnal bird; Iwokrama is one of the best places for spotting this species’


Mid 19th century: from Jamaican creole, from Akan, of imitative origin.