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See also: Crow


A bird; a crow: American crow


Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English crowe, from Old English crāwe, from Proto-Germanic *krāwō (compare West Frisian krie, Dutch kraai, German Krähe), from *krāhaną ‘to crow’. See below.


crow (plural crows)

  1. A bird, usually black, of the genus Corvus, having a strong conical beak, with projecting bristles; it has a harsh, croaking call.
    • 1922, E.R. Eddison, The Worm Ouroborus:
      Gaslark in his splendour on the golden stairs saying adieu to those three captains and their matchless armament foredoomed to dogs and crows on Salapanta Hills.
  2. A bar of iron with a beak, crook, or claw; a bar of iron used as a lever; a crowbar.
    • 1796, Matthew Lewis, The Monk, Folio Society, published 1985, page 267:
      He approached the humble tomb in which Antonia reposed. He had provided himself with an iron crow and a pick-axe: but this precaution was unnecessary.
    Synonyms: crowbar
  3. The cry of the rooster.
    Synonyms: cock-a-doodle-doo
  4. A gangplank (corvus) used by the Roman navy to board enemy ships.
  5. (among butchers) The mesentery of an animal.
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Etymology 2[edit]

Middle English crowen, from Old English crāwan (past tense crēow, past participle crāwen), from Proto-Germanic *krēaną (compare Dutch kraaien, German krähen), from Proto-Indo-European *greh₂- ‘to caw, croak’ (compare Lithuanian gróti, Russian гра́ять (grájatʹ)). Related to croak.


crow (third-person singular simple present crows, present participle crowing, simple past crowed or (UK) crew, past participle crowed)

  1. To make the shrill sound characteristic of a rooster; to make a sound in this manner, either in joy, gaiety, or defiance.
    • (Can we date this quote?), Shakespeare, (Please provide the book title or journal name):
      The morning cock crew loud.
    • 1962, Bob Dylan (lyrics and music), “Don't Think Twice, It's All Right”, in The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan:
      When your rooster crows at the break o' dawn / Look out your window and I'll be gone.
  2. To shout in exultation or defiance; to brag.
    Synonyms: brag
    • 2017 September 27, Julianne Tveten, “Zucktown, USA”, in The Baffler[1]:
      Touting its sponsorship of local engineering and sustainability programs, Amazon crows about such “investments” as its dog park, playing fields, art installations, and Buckyball-reminiscent domical gardens.
    He's been crowing all day about winning the game of cards.
  3. To utter a sound expressive of joy or pleasure.
    • 1847, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, The Princess, Part II:
      the sweetest little maid / That ever crowed for kisses
    • 1868, Anthony Trollope, He Knew He Was Right XI
      The child was at this time about ten months old, and was a strong, hearty, happy infant, always laughing when he was awake and always sleeping when he did not laugh, because his little limbs were free from pain and his little stomach was not annoyed by internal troubles. He kicked, and crowed, and sputtered, when his mother took him, and put up his little fingers to clutch her hair, and was to her as a young god upon the earth. Nothing in the world had ever been created so beautiful, so joyous, so satisfactory, so divine!
    • 1913, D.H. Lawrence, chapter 2, in Sons and Lovers:
      Hearing the miner's footsteps, the baby would put up his arms and crow.
  4. (music) To test the reed of a double reed instrument by placing the reed alone in the mouth and blowing it.
Usage notes[edit]

The past tense crew in modern usage is confined to literary and metaphorical uses, usually with reference (conscious or unconscious) to the story of Peter in Luke 22.60.


Further reading[edit]