Definition of turtledove in US English:



  • A small Old World dove with a soft purring call, noted for the apparent affection shown for its mate.

    Genus Streptopelia, family Columbidae: several species, in particular the migratory European and North African S. turtur, with a reddish-brown back and pinkish breast

    • ‘The Red List also features a disturbingly high number of formerly common farmland birds which are rapidly declining: tree sparrow, grey partridge, spotted flycatcher, song thrush, skylark, linnet and turtle dove.’
    • ‘We're envisaging matching white suits, turtle doves, and a minimalist gazebo.’
    • ‘The turtle dove, Streptopelia turtur, is smaller than the others and has the most melodious song.’
    • ‘I long ago lost a hound, a bay horse, and a turtle dove, and am still on their trail.’
    • ‘The agency slaughtered on Tuesday 45 pigeons, turtle doves and doves, including the infected ones, to prevent the virus from spreading.’
    • ‘Every week one particular turtle dove joins me outside, settling down to sleep on a nearby fence pole while I read and think in the garden.’
    • ‘That was before I realised what they were hunting - turtle doves, finches, robins, wading birds, whatever - considering it their democratic right to shoot, trap and eat anything that flies, often regardless of their protected status.’
    • ‘Archaeologists in Guangzhou of Guangdong Province have uncovered a stick with a turtle dove at the top which was made more than 2000 years ago.’
    • ‘All told, the swans, geese, calling birds, French hens, turtle doves, and partridges cost over $4,100, representing about 25 percent of the overall Index.’
    • ‘The rufous turtle dove, which is more commonly found in Asia, often winters in Scandinavia, but its visits to Britain are rare.’
    • ‘The fancy dress theme of the Twelve Days of Christmas produced gold rings, calling birds, French hens, turtle doves, maids-a-milking and ladies dancing among the imaginative costumes.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, interrupting the shadow play performance was the bellowing sound of a camel, the soft cooing of a turtle dove and the neighing of a horse.’
    • ‘Yes, like the turtle dove she had fled, though very reluctantly and was now haunted by a seductive image.’
    • ‘When viewed from the underside, the collared dove appears grayer than a turtle dove, with black visible on the tail.’
    • ‘Staying on the holiday shopping theme, just how much do three French hens, a couple of turtle doves, or five gold rings actually cost?’
    • ‘Two turtle doves sat in a nest and sang sweet love to one another.’
    • ‘If money is an issue we will go halves on the turtle doves with you!’
    • ‘Finally, it was time for me to take my turtle dove and depart.’
    • ‘Tree sparrow numbers have declined by 95 per cent since 1970, corn buntings by 85 per cent, turtle doves by 70 per cent and skylarks by 52 per cent.’
    • ‘And it doesn't tell us much about the possible positive consequences of climate change (unless you count expansion in the ranges of turtle doves and nuthatches).’


Middle English: turtle from Old English turtla, turtle ‘turtle dove’ (from Latin turtur, of imitative origin).