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A cormorant


Middle English, from Old French cormaran (modern cormoran), from Medieval Latin corvus marīnus (literally sea-raven).



cormorant (plural cormorants)

  1. Any of various medium-large black seabirds of the family Phalacrocoracidae, especially the great cormorant, Phalacrocorax carbo.
    • 1667, John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 4, lines 194-196,[1]
      Thence up he [Satan] flew, and on the Tree of Life,
      The middle Tree and highest there that grew,
      Sat like a Cormorant;
    • 1847, Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre, London: Smith, Elder, Volume 1, Chapter 13, p. 242,[2]
      One gleam of light lifted into relief a half-submerged mast, on which sat a cormorant, dark and large, with wings flecked with foam;
    • 1897, Bram Stoker, Dracula, New York: Grosset and Dunlap, Chapter 9, pp. 100-101,[3]
      The strong air [] has quite restored me. I have an appetite like a cormorant, am full of life, and sleep well.
    • 1987, Nadine Gordimer, A Sport of Nature, New York: Knopf, “Intelligence,” p. 139,[4]
      A man was swimming out towards them, his flailing arms black and defined in the heat-hazy radiance as the wings of a cormorant that skimmed the water.
  2. (obsolete) A voracious eater.
    Synonyms: glutton; see also Thesaurus:glutton
    • c. 1595, William Shakespeare, Richard II, Act II, Scene 1,[5]
      With eager feeding food doth choke the feeder:
      Light vanity, insatiate cormorant,
      Consuming means, soon preys upon itself.
    • 1725, Alexander Pope (translator), The Odyssey or Homer, London: Bernard Lintot, Volume 1, Book 1, pp. 13-14, lines 207-210,[6]
      His treasur’d stores these Cormorants consume,
      Whose bones, defrauded of a regal tomb
      And common turf, lie naked on the plain,
      Or doom’d to welter in the whelming main.



cormorant (comparative more cormorant, superlative most cormorant)

  1. Ravenous, greedy.
    • c. 1595–1596, William Shakespeare, “Loues Labour’s Lost”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act I, scene i]:
      Let fame, that all hunt after in their lives,
      Live regist'red upon our brazen tombs,
      And then grace us in the disgrace of death;
      When, spite of cormorant devouring Time,
      The endeavour of this present breath may buy
      That honour which shall bate his scythe's keen edge,
      And make us heirs of all eternity.

See also[edit]