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PIE word
The great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo).

From Middle English cormeraunt (great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo); other types of aquatic bird) [and other forms],[1] 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.[2] 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’).



cormorant (plural cormorants)

  1. 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).
    Synonyms: (obsolete) corvorant, (UK dialectal) norie, sea crow, sea raven
    • 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, 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; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, →OCLC, 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; []
    • 1726, James Thomson, “Winter”, in The Seasons, London: [] A[ndrew] Millar, and sold by Thomas Cadell, [], published 1768, →OCLC, page 170, lines 144–145:
      The cormorant on high / VVheels from the deep, and ſcreams along the land.
    • 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, 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, 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; []
    • 1897, Bram Stoker, chapter IX, in Dracula, New York, N.Y.: Modern Library, →OCLC, page 117:
      The strong air would soon restore Jonathan; it has quite restored me. I have an appetite like a cormorant, am full of life, and sleep well.
    • 1987, Nadine Gordimer, “Intelligence”, in A Sport of Nature [] (A Borzoi Book), New York, N.Y.: Alfred A[braham] Knopf, →ISBN, page 139:
      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. (figuratively, also attributively, archaic or obsolete) A voracious eater; also, a person who, or thing which, is aggressively greedy for wealth, etc.
    (voracious eater): Synonyms: glutton; see also Thesaurus:glutton


Derived terms[edit]



cormorant (comparative more cormorant, superlative most cormorant)

  1. (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?

See also[edit]


  1. ^ cormeraunt, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  2. ^ cormorant, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, March 2021; “cormorant, n.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.

Further reading[edit]