Also found in: Thesaurus, Medical, Acronyms, Idioms, Encyclopedia.


a. Any of various warm-blooded egg-laying feathered vertebrates of the class Aves, having forelimbs modified to form wings.
b. Such an animal hunted as game.
c. Such an animal, especially a chicken or turkey, used as food: put the bird in the oven.
3. Sports See shuttlecock.
4. Slang A rocket, guided missile, satellite, or airplane.
5. Slang A person, especially one who is odd or remarkable: a sly old bird.
6. Chiefly British Slang A young woman.
7. Slang
a. A loud sound expressing disapproval; a raspberry.
b. Discharge from employment: lost a big sale and nearly got the bird.
8. An obscene gesture of anger, defiance, or derision made by pointing or jabbing the middle finger upward.
intr.v. bird·ed, bird·ing, birds
1. To observe and identify birds in their natural surroundings.
2. To trap, shoot, or catch birds.
for the birds
Objectionable or worthless.

[Middle English, from Old English brid, young bird.]

bird′ing n.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


See also animals; cocks

an animal with a tongue like that of man, as the parrot.
the killing of birds.
the raising or keeping of birds. — aviculturist, n.
Rare. the study of birds’ nests.
a structure for keeping doves or pigeons; a dovecote or pigeon loft. Also columbarium.
the practice of training and hunting with falcons or hawks.
the breeding place of a colony of herons.
the study of young birds.
the process or instinct of nest-building.
the study of birds’ nests. — nidologist, n.
a device for reproducing the outline of a bird’s egg.
the branch of ornithology that collects and studies birds’ eggs. — oologist, n. — oologic, oological, adj.
a device for measuring eggs.
observation of the development of an embryo inside an egg by means of an ooscope.
the branch of zoology that studies birds. — ornithologist, n.ornithologie, ornithological, adj.
the observation of birds, especially in flight, for the purpose of divination.
an abnormal love of birds.
an abnormal fear of birds.
psittacosis, partieularly in birds other than those of the parrot family.
the anatomy of birds. — ornithotomist, n.ornithotomical, adj.
Rare. the raising and training of pigeons.
domestic fowl, particularly those raised for food or laying eggs.
a disease of parrots and other birds communicable to human beings. — psittacotic, adj.
an abnormal fear of feathers.
the branch of ornithology that studies the areas upon which birds grow feathers. Also pterylography.
a breeding or nesting place of rooks or of any gregarious bird or animal.
the state of having all four toes fully webbed, as water birds. — totipalmate, adj.
a condition of some animals, and especially of some fowls, in which the female, when old, assumes some of the characteristics of the male of the species. — virilescent, adj.
flight, the act of flying, or the ability to fly.
-Ologies & -Isms. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.




  1. Bird, its little black feet tucked under its belly like miniature bombs —Peter Meinke
  2. Birds afloat, like a scarf —Babette Deutsch
  3. Birds … bobbed like clothespins on the telephone line —Elizabeth Savage
  4. Birds … circling like black leaves —Hugh Walpole
  5. Birds flew up like black gloves jerked from a line —Paul Theroux
  6. Birds … gliding like pieces of dark paper abandoned suddenly by an erratic wind —John Rechy
  7. Bird, shaped like the insides of a yawning mouth —Charles Simic
  8. Birds in flight, fluid as music on a page —Anne Morrow Lindbergh
  9. Birds … like planes stacked up over the airport, circling until they get a permission-to-land signal —Italo Calvino
  10. Bird songs rang in the air like dropped coins —George Garrett
  11. Birds rose into the air like blown leaves (at his approach) —Margaret Millar
  12. The birds sang as if every sparkling drop were a fountain of inspiration to them —Charles Dickens
  13. Birds … they roll like a drunken fingerprint across the sky —Richard Wilbur
  14. (Birds) twitter louder than a flute —Phyllis McGinley
  15. Birds … white as scraps of paper —Willa Cather

    See Also: WHITE

  16. Crows whirled lazily in the sky like flakes of black ash rising from a fire —Guy Vanderhaeghe
  17. A dove … glistening like a pearl —Hans Christian Andersen
  18. The eagles were reveling in the air like bank robbers who had broken into the vault —Edward Hoagland
  19. A flight of egrets … flying low, and scattered … like a ripple of white notes, sweet and pure and springlike, which an unseen hand drew forth, like a divine arpeggio, from an unseen harp —W. Somerset Maugham

    See Also: MUSIC

  20. A flock of white swans flew like a long white veil over the water —Hans Christian Andersen
  21. The fluttering, honking formation of birds was like a ship borne by the wind into the high invisible distance —Bernard Malamud
  22. Geese … blackening the sky like a shake of pepper —Diane Ackerman
  23. Gulls cry like hurt children —George Garrett
  24. Gulls … settling and stirring like blown paper —Sylvia Plath
  25. A handful of thrushes set down in an oak tree, like a flurry of leaves —Linda Bierds

    This simile marks the closing of Bierds’ poem, Mid-Plains Tornado.

  26. (That great) hawk circling like a black planet —Ellen Gilchrist
  27. Hens … like dowager women, plump and impeccably arrayed in brown and grey —Rolf Yngve
  28. His wings [Jonathan Livingston Seagull’s] were smooth and perfect as sheets of polished silver —Richard Bach
  29. Hummingbird … with a beak that looked as long as a darning needle and about as sharp —A. E. Maxwell
  30. A jaybird … flying in a feathered flash of blue and white like a swift piece of the sky —George Garrett
  31. The parrots shriek as if they were on fire —Ted Hughes

    In a poem entitled The Jaguar, the parrots not only shriek but “Strut like cheap tarts to attract the stroller with the nut.”

    See Also: SCREAMS

  32. The pigeons lolloped from illusory pediment to window-ledge like volatile, feathered madmen, chattering vile rhymes and laughing in hoarse, throaty voices —Angela Carter
  33. Pigeons … settled into trees that shone with them like soft blue and gray fruit —Marge Piercy
  34. Pigeons … with spreading wings like falling snow —Émile Zola
  35. Soared high above the other birds, climbing like a dart —R. Wright Campbell
  36. A solid line of pelicans flew … in graceful unison like a crew of oarsman in a racing shell —George Garrett
  37. Sparrows scatter like handfuls of gravel —William H. Gass
  38. Storks and pelicans flew in a line like waving ribbons —Hans Christian Andersen
  39. Swans floated about like white lanterns —Lawrence Durrell
  40. Swans go by like a snowy procession of Popes —George Garrett
  41. Terns rise like seafoam from the breaking surf —Robert Hass
  42. White gulls … in such close formation they were like a cloud —Phyllis Roberts
Similes Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1988 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
All children could have such recollections if they would press their hands hard to their temples, for, having been birds before they were human, they are naturally a little wild during the first few weeks, and very itchy at the shoulders, where their wings used to be.
"Look at your night-gown, if you don't believe me," Solomon said, and with staring eyes Peter looked at his nightgown, and then at the sleeping birds. Not one of them wore anything.
In fanciful stories people can talk to the birds freely, and I wish for the moment I could pretend that this were such a story, and say that Peter replied intelligently to the Never bird; but truth is best, and I want to tell you only what really happened.
niger, the cuckoos are the only birds which can be called truly parasitical; namely, such as "fasten themselves, as it were, on another living animal, whose animal heat brings their young into life, whose food they live upon, and whose death would cause theirs during the period of infancy." It is remarkable that some of the species, but not all, both of the Cuckoo and Molothrus, should agree in this one strange habit of their parasitical propagation, whilst opposed to each other in almost every other habit: the molothrus, like our starling, is eminently sociable, and lives on the open plains without art or disguise: the cuckoo, as every one knows, is a singularly shy bird; it frequents the most retired thickets, and feeds on fruit and caterpillars.
"The three things, madam," replied the old woman, "are, first, the Talking Bird, whose voice draws all other singing birds to it, to join in chorus.
'Mortal men have but little wisdom, and can give you no help, but the birds of the air would be better guides to you if you could learn their language.
Their circumspection proved to me that these birds knew what to expect from bipeds of our species, and I concluded that, if the island was not inhabited, at least human beings occasionally frequented it.
It would be easy to show that several distinct mental actions are commonly embraced by this term; but every one understands what is meant, when it is said that instinct impels the cuckoo to migrate and to lay her eggs in other birds' nests.
As I saw her through the great window, the sunshine flooded the landscape, which, however, was momentarily becoming eclipsed by an onrush of a myriad birds."
Tiny birds twittered, and now and then fluttered from tree to tree.
During the presence of these monarchs of the air, the flocks of migrating birds avoided crossing the plain of ice by turning into the hills, apparently seeking the protection of the forests, while the white and bald heads of the tenants of the lake were turned upward, with a look of contempt.
Tom Jones, when very young, had presented Sophia with a little bird, which he had taken from the nest, had nursed up, and taught to sing.