From Middle English cormeraunt (“great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo); other types of aquatic bird”) [and other forms], from Old French cormaran, cor-maraunt [and other forms] (modern French cormoran), possibly variants of *corp-marin, from Medieval Latin corvus marīnus (literally “sea-raven”), with the ending -morant possibly derived from French moran (“marine, maritime”), from Breton mor (“sea”), with -an corrupted in English to -ant. Latin corvus is ultimately derived from Proto-Indo-European *ḱorh₂wós (“raven”), which is imitative of the harsh cry of the bird; while marīnus (“of or pertaining to the sea, marine”) is from Latin mare (“sea”) (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *móri (“sea; standing water”), possibly from *mer- (“sea; lake; wetland”)) + -īnus (suffix meaning ‘of or pertaining to’).
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈkɔːməɹənt/
- (General American) IPA(key): /ˈkɔɹməɹənt/
Audio (GA) (file)
- Hyphenation: cor‧mor‧ant
cormorant (plural cormorants)
- Any of various medium-large black seabirds of the family Phalacrocoracidae which dive into water for fish and other aquatic animals, found throughout the world except for islands in the centre of the Pacific Ocean; specifically, the great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo).
- 1634, William Wood, “Of the Birds and Fowles both of Land and Water”, in New Englands Prospect. A True, Lively, and Experimentall Description of that Part of America, Commonly Called New England; […], London: […] Tho[mas] Cotes, for Iohn Bellamie, […], OCLC 837516736, 1st part, page 27:
- Th' Eele-murthering Hearne, and greedy Cormorant, / That neare the Creekes in moriſh Marſhes haunt.
- 1667, John Milton, “Book IV”, in Paradise Lost. […], London: […] [Samuel Simmons], […], OCLC 228722708; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: […], London: Basil Montagu Pickering […], 1873, OCLC 230729554, lines 194-196:
- Thence up he [Satan] flew, and on the Tree of Life, / The middle Tree and higheſt there that grew, / Sat like a Cormorant; […]
- 1839, Charles Darwin, chapter XII, in Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of His Majesty’s Ships Adventure and Beagle, between the Years 1826 and 1836, […], volume III, London: Henry Colburn, […], OCLC 228675426, footnote †, page 256:
- I may mention, that I one day observed a cormorant playing with a fish which it had caught. Eight times successively the bird let its prey go, then dived after it, and although in deep water, brought it each time to the surface. […] I do not know of any other instance where dame Nature appears so wilfully cruel.
- 1847 October 16, Currer Bell [pseudonym; Charlotte Brontë], chapter XIII, in Jane Eyre. An Autobiography. […], volume I, London: Smith, Elder, and Co., […], OCLC 3163777, page 242:
- These pictures were in water colours. […] One gleam of light lifted into relief a half-submerged mast, on which sat a cormorant, dark and large, with wings flecked with foam; […]
- (figuratively, also attributively, archaic or obsolete) A voracious eater; also, a person who, or thing which, is aggressively greedy for wealth, etc.
- 1531, Thomas Elyot, “Of Sobrietie in Diete”, in Ernest Rhys, editor, The Boke Named the Governour […] (Everyman’s Library), London: J[oseph] M[alaby] Dent & Co; New York, N.Y.: E[dward] P[ayson] Dutton & Co, published , OCLC 1026313858, 3rd book, page 265:
- 1595 December 9 (first known performance), [William Shakespeare], The Tragedie of King Richard the Second. […] (First Quarto), London: […] Valentine Simmes for Androw Wise, […], published 1597, OCLC 213833262, [Act II, scene i]:
- VVith eagre feeding foode doth choke the feeder, / Light vanitie inſatiate cormorant, / Conſuming meanes ſoone praies vpon it ſelfe: […]
- c. 1595–1596 (date written), W. Shakespere [i.e., William Shakespeare], A Pleasant Conceited Comedie Called, Loues Labors Lost. […] (First Quarto), London: […] W[illiam] W[hite] for Cut[h]bert Burby, published 1598, OCLC 61366361; republished as Shakspere’s Loves Labours Lost (Shakspere-Quarto Facsimiles; no. 5), London: W[illiam] Griggs, […], , OCLC 1154977408, [Act I, scene i]:
- Let Fame, that all hunt after in their lyues, / Liue regiſtred vpon our brazen Tombes, / And then grace vs, in the diſgrace of death: / VVhen ſpight of cormorant deuouring Time, / Th[']endeavour of this preſent breath may buy: / That honour vvhich ſhall bate his ſythes keene edge, / And make vs heires of all eternitie.
- c. 1608–1609 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedy of Coriolanus”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act I, scene i], page 2, column 1:
- Should by the Cormorant belly be reſtrain'd, / VVho is the ſinke a th'body.
- 1693, [William] Congreve, The Old Batchelour, a Comedy. […], 2nd edition, London: […] Peter Buck, […], OCLC 316362426, Act IV, scene i, page 4:
- VVhy, vvhat a Cormorant in Love am I! vvho not contented vvith the ſlavery of honourable Love in one place, and the pleaſure of enjoying ſome half a ſcore Miſtreſſes of my ovvn acquiring; muſt yet take Vainlove’s Buſineſs upon my hands, becauſe it lay too heavy upon his: […]
- 1725, Homer; [Elijah Fenton], transl., “Book I”, in The Odyssey of Homer. […], volume I, London: […] Bernard Lintot, OCLC 8736646, lines 207–210, page 26:
- His treaſur’d ſtores theſe Cormorants conſume, / VVhoſe bones, defrauded of a regal tomb / And common turf, lie naked on the plain, / Or doom’d to vvelter in the vvhelming main.
- 1842, Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Lady Anne Granard, volume 3, page 126:
- She had discovered, within a short time, that doctors were not the cormorants (often ignorant, but always insatiable) she had supposed them to be, and that certain causes produced certain effects;...
- (archaic or obsolete) Voracious; aggressively greedy.
- 1830, Boston Masonic Mirror, page 398:
- Anti-masonry is as cormorant as death, and will not be satisfied though one half the human race be immolated to appease its infernal appetite.
- 1842, Weekly Globe, page 261:
- ... the victims of fanaticism who frequent Exeter Hall, to be plucked by tax gatherers more cormorant than your own excise-men at home?