One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A small songbird that searches acrobatically for insects among foliage and branches.
- ‘As soon as the jays leave, the titmice take turns.’
- ‘Perhaps our best birder poet, he has written memorably about chickadees, towhees, titmice, owls, great blue herons, pelicans, kingfishers, and many others, always effacing himself before the glory of the thing seen.’
- ‘A mockingbird sang nonstop, sometimes making up his own phrases, sometimes mimicking a bluebird, sometimes mimicking a titmouse.’
- ‘Chickadees called occasionally, but never titmice.’
- ‘Surely there was gaiety in summer, but for now, gray titmice moved close to the ground, almost silent, probably killing the insects who only wanted to sleep until spring.’
Middle English: from tit + obsolete mose ‘titmouse’. The change in the ending in the 16th century was due to association with mouse, probably because of the bird's size and quick movements.
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