sparrow

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English[edit]

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A male sparrow (Passer domesticus)
A female sparrow (Passer domesticus)

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English sparwe, sparowe, from Old English spearwa (sparrow), from Proto-Germanic *sparwô, *sparwaz (sparrow), from Proto-Indo-European *sper(w)-, *sper(g)- (sparrow, bird). Cognate with Dutch spreeuw (starling), Alemannic German Spar (sparrow), German Sperling (sparrow), Danish spurv (sparrow), Swedish sparv (sparrow), Breton frao (crow), Tocharian A spārāñ, Ancient Greek ψάρ (psár, starling).

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

sparrow (plural sparrows)

  1. The house sparrow, Passer domesticus; a small bird with a short bill, and brown, white and gray feathers.
  2. A member of the family Passeridae, comprising small Old World songbirds.
  3. A member of the family Emberizidae, comprising small New World songbirds.
  4. Generically, any small, nondescript bird.
  5. (UK, chiefly London) A quick-witted, lively person. Often used in the phrase cockney sparrow.
    • 2005, Drama Faces: Martine McCutcheon, BBC
      Professional cockney sparrow Martine has acted since childhood.
    • 1878, Ally Sloper's guide to the Paris exhibition, Charles Henry Ross, p. 54
      I take it there 's scarcely a happier fellow alive than your honest town-bred smoke-dried cockney sparrow.

Derived terms[edit]

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Translations[edit]

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