One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
nounCaithness, Shetland, Orkney, Scottish
A tern or small gull.
Late 18th century; earliest use found in George Low (1747–1795), naturalist. Probably from the unattested Norn cognate of Old Icelandic rytr kind of gull, Icelandic ryta kittiwake, Faroese ryta kittiwake (from an ablaut variant (zero-grade) of the same Scandinavian base as Old Icelandic rauta, probably originally descriptive of the bird's cry) + -ock.
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