One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A new military recruit, especially one assigned to menial tasks.
novice, starter, learner, student, pupil, trainee, apprentice, probationerView synonyms
- ‘Sergeants, once chosen to sit at the right hand of God because of singular abilities to make bone-headed privates see things the Army way, shrank from shouting at psychoneurotic yardbirds because doing so might get them in deep trouble.’
- ‘The yardbirds are in the throes of rumour-induced psychosis after being gripped by speculation that our entire unit is about to be transported to a faraway place.’
- ‘Getting the yardbird orchestrating attacks off the street is far more important to the lives of your soldiers than a little wounded pride over a screwed up form.’
- ‘A stitch in one argent yardbird's stripe, probably saves nine.’
prisoner, convict, detainee, inmateView synonyms
- ‘The working convict is a rare exception, sometimes envied because his time is occupied, sometimes derided for his deviance from the yardbird norm.’
- ‘Jim also identified negative effects such as younger inmates being taken advantage of by older predatory yardbirds, and some ultimately becoming cheetos-metamorphoses that Jim doesn't approve of.’
1940s: perhaps suggested by jailbird.
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