bittern

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English[edit]

Great bittern
(Botaurus stellaris)
Little bittern
(Ixobrychus minutus)

Pronunciation[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

Old French butor, from Gallo-Roman *butitaurus, a blend of Latin būtiō (bittern) and taurus (bull, ox).

Noun[edit]

bittern (plural bitterns)

  1. Several bird species in the Botaurinae subfamily of the heron family Ardeidae.
    • 1819, Washington Irving, The Sketch Book, Rip Van Winkle:
      It is a great rock or cliff on the loneliest part of the mountains, and, … is known by the name of the Garden Rock. Near the foot of it is a small lake, the haunt of the solitary bittern, with water-snakes basking in the sun on the leaves of the pond-lilies which lie on the surface.
Derived terms[edit]
Translations[edit]
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Etymology 2[edit]

From bitter with an unclear suffix, perhaps a dialect form of -ing.

Noun[edit]

bittern (uncountable)

  1. The liquor remaining after halite (common salt) has been harvested from saline water (brine).
  2. (archaic) A very bitter compound of quassia, cocculus indicus, etc., used by fraudulent brewers in adulterating beer.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Cooley to this entry?)

Anagrams[edit]