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A large African bird of prey (Sagittarius serpentarius) with long legs, gray and black plumage, and a crest of quills at the back of the head.
[Probably so called after its crest of quills, which reminded 18th-century observers of legal secretaries who stuck their quills into their wigs when not writing with them.]
(Animals) a large African long-legged diurnal bird of prey, Sagittarius serpentarius, having a crest and tail of long feathers and feeding chiefly on snakes: family Sagittariidae, order Falconiformes (hawks, falcons, etc)
[C18: so called because its crest resembles a group of quill pens stuck behind the ear]
a large, long-legged bird of prey, Sagittarius serpentarius, of Africa, that feeds on reptiles.
[1790–1800; < French secrétaire, perhaps by folk etym. < Sudanese Arabic ṣagr al-ṭēr]
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|Noun||1.||secretary bird - large long-legged African bird of prey that feeds on reptiles|
bird of prey, raptor, raptorial bird - any of numerous carnivorous birds that hunt and kill other animals